Phantom Phones CEO Arrested For Selling Custom Blackberry Phones to Alleged Cartel Operators (3/11/2018)
La Cartita --- The CEO of an established custom phone modification company, Vicente Garcia, was arrested by American security forces (FBI). The operation was reportedly launched between three 'five eyes' governments: the US, Canada and Australia. The 'Five Eyes' name is a reference to a five country wide intelligence sharing convention adopted between white settler states and England. Other Anglo countries, like New Zealand and England (not named in the sting against Garcia), operate within the five eyes framework to hunt alleged criminals and terrorists.Weak Evidence: usernames on phantom emails were 'violent'
Garcia has not been treated like the CEO of Apple. Steve Cook famously refused to hand over encryption keys to the US federal government when asked to cooperate in an investigation in his home country. Instead, Phantom's CEO (a Canadian company) had a resource intensive sting operation set its sights on him and his employees from the outset, with no legitimate suspicion raised prior to the investigation. If criminal activities were undertaken with the use of Phantom Enterprise services, these appear to not have been learned about until after the investigation was launched. Apparently, offering encryption services was reason enough to pursue and extend a criminal complaint against Vicente Garcia.
One detail in the complain is that the usernames of distinct users of the 'Phantom' platform made references to violence. By that rationale, however, Google and Apple should police the nature of their usernames despite having 0 evidence to connect speech with violence. Exerting a higher standard for a smaller company appears to have the simple task of destroying the company's ability to provide its service, not improve the safety of the majority of the population largely untouched by the activities detailed in the US/Canadian complaint against Phantom.Wiping customer data instead of handing it over, like Apple or Google, is now a crime?
Phantom offers an enterprise server for extra secure communication routed through non-Five eyes linked services. In some cases, a client could request that phone data be wiped on the phone, allowing the customer the amount of data sourced from their phones. This feature was enough for authorities to lob a 'criminal enterprise' charge that loosely defined Phantom as an accessory to a crime.Encrypting communications is a crime?
Purported evidence includes Royal Canadian Mounted Police asking him if 'using the phone to send MDMA to Montreal' is possible. Garcia replied 'it was totally fine', but a reasonable defense at a non-literal affirmation of the phone's privacy features can surely be had under this criminal complaint. Loose evidence like this begs the question of whether the actual crime is providing encryption and enterprise workflow to paying individuals, free from the constraints of 'Big Tech' and government.Three Countries Pin A 5 Kilo Deal on CEO
Phantom's CEO is now also facing an absurd charge on alleged conspiracy to traffick 5 kilograms of cocaine. The rationale is that 'use of the Phantom phone' constituted becoming an accessory to the crime of trafficking. The charges are surely meant to intimidate other providers of encrypted services, and making opaque the communications of people deemed dangerous by government entities.