We have seen that there have been a lot of privacy advocates who have said that police action against encryption as well as other such privacy measures is harmful and that they should be left running as they are. However, there is a fine line between privacy and making abuse of the powers that encryption holds. One such incident has come to light where the UK police have had to take action against an encryption chat platform named EncroChat. It is reported that EncroChat has been taken down by the UK Police in their “biggest ever” law enforcement operation till date.
This is because of the 746 arrests that have been made due to the chat platform so far in the UK. The reason why UK Police had to intervene in this matter is that criminals were said to be using the platform and since it is encrypted, the messages were not being traced by law enforcement agencies and criminals were having a free run posing a threat to national security. Now, we have heard similar stories of how Telegram is being used by major terrorist groups for chatting since it is also encrypted. For this reason, Telegram is also banned in many parts of the world.
Apart from the arrest of 746 people, the operation is also big because of “the seizing of £54 million in cash, 77 firearms, and over two tonnes of drugs”. The UK Police has stated that EncroChat has been shut down because “Its sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of illicit commodities, money laundering, and plotting to kill rival criminals”. They have added that out of the 60,000 users using this platform, 10,000 were from the UK.
The police added that “Unbeknown to users, the NCA and the police have been monitoring their every move since then under Operation Venetic” referring to joint operations since 2016 against such encrypted chat platforms.