Judgment in Ennetcom data case: Hansken withstands judicial review

With a court ruling that the 3.6 million encrypted messages from Ennetcom servers in Canada were lawfully obtained and searched the Public Prosecution Service, the NFI’s forensic search engine Hansken has held up under judicial review.


The Netherlands Forensic Institute has been developing the forensic search engine since 2012 to facilitate searches of increasingly large quantities of data in criminal cases.

Questions are raised for the first time

Over the past few years Hansken has been used in over 500 cases, but never before had detailed questions been posed about the use of the search engine. In the case of Naoufal F., defence attorney Inez Weski raised questions that centred mainly on the issue of quality control: how was the data entered into Hansken? Was the data edited? How accurate is Hansken?

A data-searching tool

Hansken is not a research method. It is merely a tool to help search through large quantities of data. It has no influence whatsoever on the information found.

The court sets conditions

The court in Canada set a condition for the use of the Ennetcom data: not all data could be used in all cases. The Public Prosecution Service must specify in advance, to the court, what information it intends to examine. After receiving the court’s approval, this subset of the data is filtered out from the rest, with the help of Hansken, and made accessible to police investigators.

A lorry load of information

If all the data in this case were to be printed doubled-sided on A4 paper, it would fill a lorry. Searching through this material without the help of automated technology is an enormous job which would take a great deal of time and capacity.

A vote of confidence from the court

The team of digital forensic experts who developed Hansken and work with the system every day are pleased that the court expressed confidence in this forensic search engine.

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