Encrochat messages were intercepted before encryption
A judgment by the Court of Appeal on 5 February 2021, however, found that French police had been able to use a software implant to access messages from phone handsets before they had been encrypted. They were automatically forwarded to a server set up by the French digital crime unit, C3N.
Defence lawyers said in a preliminary hearing that they suspected that disclosure officers do not understand a lot of the technical details in documents related to Operation Venetic.
“There is far more likely to be a reliable disclosure exercise if there is an expert assisting a disclosure officer or even an expert appointed as a disclosure officer who can understand the significance of the material,” one lawyer said.
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More in regards to the Encrochat and SKY ECC secure communications hacking case :
The lawyer said the defence team had requested prosecution disclosure in November last year, but that it was making further reactive requests for disclosure following the takedown of Sky ECC in Belgium.
French investigators broke the supposedly secure EncroChat encrypted mobile phone network, used by 50,000 people worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK, in April 2020, after gaining access to the EncroChat servers discovered in a datacentre run by OVH in Roubaix.
Investigators installed software “implants” on tens of thousands of mobile phone handsets which, according to the court of appeal, retrieved supposedly secure messages, photographs and notes from the phones before they were encrypted.
The French have refused to disclose any details to the courts in the UK and European countries bringing prosecutions against EncroChat users about how the implants work, citing national defence reasons.
Further hearings have been put back to late April or early May.