The FBI’s Trojan Shield operation had a larger American footprint


Picture for an article titled FBI Honeypot phones were more widely distributed in the US than previously thought

Photography: OLIVIER MORIN / AFP (Getty Images)

Included is one of the weirder stories from last year a huge FBI operation designed to catch thieves around the world. According to Motherboard, that operation had a bigger stamp in the US than was originally believed.

During “Operation Trojan Shield, ” used feds secret connection with an encrypted telephone company called Ana, who sold devices exclusively to career criminals looking for a secure way to communicate with each other. The product developer, who had previously been arrested for drug smuggling, agreed to act as a high-level federal informant and at least two years sold devices to criminals, and also secretly cooperated with the authorities. Meanwhile, the FBI, along with its international partners, intercepted all communications, allowing them to capture evidence of widespread criminal malpractice globally.

There was a damn weird story when the office finally revealed what it was doing last June, and Shield led to the arrest of hundreds of alleged criminals in countries around the world – many accused of using the phone to organize drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime. . Arrests continue to this day.

But tthere was one place here that did not see any arrests, and that is the United States. Due to legal issues, the FBI blocked surveillance of U.S. users of back-access devices, apparently because they were concerned that the operation technically violated U.S. law and threatened civil liberties – specifically the Fourth Amendment, which bans police searches and seizures without warrants. While court documents revealed that at least 15 people in the U.S. were known users of the Trojan devices, those individuals were said to be geo-fenced by surveillance authorities – meaning they were left out of the investigation.

This is not to say that Anom phones did not end up being distributed in the US. In fact, much more has been shipped to America than previously reported, according to Motherboard. The publication recently reported that at least three different shipments of phones have arrived in the country. One of those shipments was sent to a mailbox in New York City in March 2020 and included as many as 100 phones. Two more shipments are included, both of which were sent to an unloading point in San Diego a total of at least 10 devices.

It is still not clear how many phones in total they were eventually shipped to the US, and after the phones were in the US, it is unknown how many were actively used, whether picked them up by the FBI or if they are only forwarded to other countries for use there, reports the edition. As noted earlier, we know that at least 15 phones were in use in the U.S. at some point, although details on who could have used them or why they are scarce. Anom is said to have distributed around 12,000 phones globally, which means that the American part – although potentially small – still makes up a significant part. The phones were distributed directly by Ana itself or by online distributors with whom the company had relationships.

An interesting detail is the rather complex law enforcement operation – the full context of which is clearly yet to be revealed.

Much has already been made about legal outline from the “Trojan Shield”. In addition to obvious civil liberties and privacy concerns with the FBI effectively “running” the back door phone company, the operation also raised concerns that the operation would ultimately undermine belief in the power of encryption — a useful tool not only for criminals but also for ordinary people who want to maintain digital privacy.


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