Sky International CEO Jean-Francois Eap, who the Division of Justice indicted final week for his alleged position in offering encryption tech to worldwide drug cartels, has shot again that the federal government is focusing on him to destroy the “fundamental right to privacy.”
Per ZDNet, Eap (whose firm relies in Canada) printed an announcement on Sunday claiming he had solely discovered he was being prosecuted from media experiences and denying that the corporate’s encrypted units had been ever meant for criminality. On Friday, a federal grand jury indicted Eap and one in all his former distributors, Thomas Herdman, with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as prosecutors alleged Sky International, which manufactures safe handheld units and the Sky ECC encrypted messaging app, “knowingly and intentionally participated” in drug rings that transported cocaine, heroin, and meth throughout the globe.
Prosecutors wrote the corporate intentionally marketed the units to be used by criminals and promoting the power to remotely wipe them “if the device is seized by law enforcement or otherwise compromised.” Final week, Europol introduced that investigators had cracked the encryption on Sky ECC, permitting to watch lots of of thousands and thousands of chat classes from round 70,000 customers and launch a “large number of arrests” on March 9 throughout Belgium and the Netherlands. Sky International has as a substitute claimed that European police seem to have conflated Sky ECC with an insecure “imposter” model of its know-how being distributed by a “disgruntled” former reseller and that has a wholly separate internet area, skyecc.eu.
“As I have been following the media reports in the past week, it is with great sadness that I see far-reaching coverage of what can only be described as erosion of the right to privacy,” Eap wrote within the assertion. “Sky Global’s technology works for the good of all. It was not created to prevent the police from monitoring criminal organizations; it exists to prevent anyone from monitoring and spying on the global community. The indictment against me personally in the United States is an example of the police and the government trying to vilify anyone who takes a stance against unwarranted surveillance.”
“It seems that it is simply not enough that you have not done anything illegal,” Eap added. “There is no question that I have been targeted, as Sky Global has been targeted, only because we build tools to protect the fundamental right to privacy. The unfounded allegations of involvement in criminal activity by me and our company are entirely false.”
For years, federal authorities have waged a warfare on public distribution and industrial use of encryption tech, which they insist shields terrorists, drug sellers, and all types of different slimy characters from prosecution. They’ve additionally demanded that firms intentionally construct in hidden vulnerabilities (often called backdoors) that will permit police to serve up a search warrant and decrypt protected communications. Allies in Congress are pushing the EARN IT Act, which might threaten tech firms with elevated legal responsibility for little one intercourse abuse materials despatched by its customers in the event that they don’t adjust to a set of encryption “best practices” that might embody restrictions on probably the most safe types of encryption equivalent to end-to-end or constructing these backdoors.
After all, the overwhelming majority of customers of encryption tech will not be violent criminals, and safety researchers are just about unanimous that the dangers of introducing backdoors that might probably be utilized by anybody into safe merchandise far outweighs no matter comfort is sought by authorities. Whether or not or not banning or undermining sturdy encryption will truly help authorities in any respect is extremely contentious—critical criminals can have no drawback discovering methods to make use of it anyhow. It’s not unreasonable to suspect the feds’ thinly-veiled motivation is in attacking something that might make mass surveillance tougher.
As TechDirt famous, the Sky ECC scenario is similar to the case round Phantom Safe, an organization that the FBI and worldwide accomplice companies accused of promoting tech on to gangs and drug cartels. CEO Vincent Ramos finally pleaded responsible to operating a felony enterprise that facilitated drug trafficking, although it later emerged that the FBI had tried and didn’t coerce Ramos into slicing a deal for a diminished sentence in alternate for constructing a surveillance backdoor into Phantom Safe tech that investigators might use to watch the Sinaloa Cartel.
Whereas the indictment accuses Sky International of knowingly intervening to wipe units seized or compromised by the cops, it additionally states the corporate sought to keep up full anonymity between it and its clients after Phantom Safe got here underneath hearth. TechDirt famous it’s completely doable the authorities are referring to performance that enables customers to request telephone wipes underneath any circumstances, not particularly simply after they’re taken by police. The DOJ hasn’t publicly offered its proof within the case, whereas within the Phantom Safe case, undercover brokers posing as traffickers stated Ramos admitted to them his units had been engineered with organized crime in thoughts.