On Friday Dutch police said they have arrested the owner of Ennetcom, which provides encrypted communications for 19,000 customers, on suspicion of using the business for organised crime. Police have now shut the network.
Judges in Rotterdam ordered that Danny Manupassa should be held for 2 weeks during an investigation. Prosecutors say he is suspected of money laundering and possessing illegal weapons.
“Police and prosecutors believe that they have captured the largest encrypted network used by organized crime in the Netherlands”, prosecutors said in a statement.
Using encrypted communications is legal, but many of that particular network’s users are believed to have engaged in serious criminal activity, according to spokesman Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor’s office.
In a statement, Ennetcom said the company was forced to suspend all operations and services for the time being.
“Ennetcom regrets this course of events and insinuations towards Ennetcom. It should be clear that Ennetcom stands for freedom of privacy”, the company said.
Ennetcom and most of the network’s users are based in the Netherlands, but most of the servers were located in Canada. Information on those machines has been copied in cooperation with Toronto police.
Canada’s Department of Justice said the matter was under investigation.
De Bruin said the information gathered would be used in the investigation against Manupassa, and potentially in other ongoing criminal investigations.
De Bruin declined to comment on whether and how police would be able to decrypt information kept on the servers.
“The company sold modified telephones for about 1,500 euros each and used its own servers for the encrypted data traffic”, said prosecutors. “The phones had been modified so that they could not be used to make calls or use the Internet”.
The phones had reportedly turned up in investigations into drug cases, criminal motorcycle gangs and gangland crimes. All 19,000 of the network’s users were sent a message on Tuesday notifying them that the system was being investigated by police
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.