Dutch police close Ennetcom encrypted communications network

Thousands of users are now locked out of the platform, which law enforcement says is used by criminals.

Dutch law enforcement has arrested and is holding the owner of Ennetcom, an encrypted communications network which is allegedly used by organized crime rings.

Ennetcom calls itself a "true pioneer" in secure network communication and cybersecurity. Used by thousands of people worldwide, the platform utilizes BlackBerry enterprise servers in order to offer encrypted and secure communication channels.

However, the seemingly legitimate business has recently caught the eye of law enforcement agencies across Europe.

The operator of the platform, Danny Manupassa, is being held for 14 days while the investigation is taking place. The 36-year-old is suspected of money laundering and possessing illegal weapons.

In a statement, prosecutors said:

"Police and prosecutors believe that they have captured the largest encrypted network used by organized crime in the Netherlands. The company sold modified telephones for about 1,500 euros each and used its own servers for the encrypted data traffic.

The phones had been modified so that they could not be used to make calls or use the Internet."

Law enforcement says these mobile devices have constantly turned up in criminal cases, leading to the investigation into Ennetcom. As reported by Reuters, Dutch national prosecutor office spokesman Wim de Bruin said that many of the platform's users were engaged in "serious criminal activity," despite encryption being completely legal.

It remains to be seen whether anyone is prosecuted due to their activity on the platform, or whether law enforcement simply wanted to close down a blind spot in their surveillance and operations.

Ennetcom would most likely agree with the latter. In an announcement on its website, Ennetcom said that the company found out "judicial research" was being conducted towards Ennetcom, and various agencies were trying to close down the network.

"Previously there have been attempts to put us down, amongst them the Dutch intelligence service, but they never succeeded," the firm claims.

However, now the stakes have been raised and the fresh investigation is underway, Ennetcom's operations have all been stopped -- with the company saying that in the name of security and privacy, Ennetcom is completely offline, at least for now.

The firm's servers were kept in Canada, but it is not known whether any data can be decrypted by police agencies.

The company said:

"Ennetcom is 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 platform's 19,000 users have all been notified of law enforcement's actions.

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