The FBI secretly launched an encrypted messaging system for criminals

Photo by JERRY LAMPEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

An encrypted phone service called Anom was secretly run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a yearslong international sting operation. Law enforcement agencies across Europe, the US, and Oceania revealed Anom’s origins earlier today, saying they had arrested 800 criminal suspects based on intercepted communications.

According to public statements, the FBI and other agencies seeded secure Anom phones with suspected crime syndicates, gradually building a network of around 12,000 total (and 9,000 active) devices. The phones secretly siphoned 27 million messages between 2019 and 2021, resulting in Operation Greenlight / Trojan Shield — a large-scale bust that included seizing around eight tons of cocaine, 22 tons of cannabis and…

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