1-odda weirder stories from last yr involved a gargantuan fbi honeypot operation designed to catch crooks all ‘oer the realm. according to motherboard, that operation had a bigger imprint inna u.s. than originally believed.
during “operation trojan shield,” the feds used a secret relationship with an encrypted phone company, called anom, which sold devices exclusively to career criminals looking for a secure way to communicate with one another. the product’s developer, who had previously been busted for drug trafficking, agreed to act as a high-lvl federal informant and for at least two yrs sold devices to criminals while also secretly cooperating with authorities. meanwhile the fbi, along with its international ptners, intercepted all odda communications, which alloed them to capture evidence of widespread criminal malfeasance na' global scale.
it made for one helluva weird story when the bureau finally revealed wha’ it had been up to last jun, and “shield” led to the arrest of hundreds of alleged criminals in countries all round the realm—many of which are accused of using the phones to organize drug trafficking nother forms of organized crime. the arrests continue to this dy.
but there was one place that didn’t see any arrests, and that’s the ∪d states. due to legal issues, the fbi precluded surveillance of american usrs of the backdoored devices, apparently cause they were concerned that the operation teknically viol8d u.s. laws and threatened civil liberties—specifically the 4th amendment, which prohibits police search and seizure without a warrant. while a court filing revealed that at least 15 pplz located inna u.s. were known usrs of the trojanized devices, these individuals were said to ‘ve been geofenced by authorities conducting surveillance—meaning they were left out of the investigation.
that doesn’t mean that the anom phones weren’t ultimately distributed inna u.s. actually, a whole lot + were shipped to america than previously reprted, according to motherboard. the outlet recently reprted that at least 3 ≠ shipments of the phones made their way inna'da country. one of those shipments was made to a p.o. box in new york in mar 2020 and involved as many as 100 phones. two other shipments, both of which were made to a drop point in san diego, included a total of at least 10 devices.
tis still unclear how many phones in total were ultimately shipped to the u.s., and, once the phones were inna u.s., it’s unknown how many were actively used, whether they were picked up by the fbi, or iffey were merely forwarded to other countries for use there, the outlet reprts. as previously stated, we know that at least 15 of the phones were in use inna u.s. at some point, though details on who mite ‘ve been using them or why are scant. anom s'aid to ‘ve globally distributed round 12,000 of the phones, meaning that the u.s.’s portion—while potentially lil—still made up a significant sliver. the phones were either distributed directly by anom itself or by online distributors that the company had relationships with.
it’s an interesting detail bout a fairly complex law enforcement operation—the full context of which is obviously still bein’ uncovered.
much has already been made bout the legal sketchiness of “trojan shield.” aside from the obvious civil liberties and privacy concerns w'da fbi effectively “running” a backdoored phone company, the operation also inspired concerns that the op ‘d ultimately undermine faith inna power of encryption—a useful tool not js'4 criminals b'tll so for everydy pplz looking to maintain digital privacy.
original content at: gizmodo.com…
authors: lucas ropek