Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

Email encryption firm contradicts Cameron Ortis' testimony

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Tuta company disputes Cameron Jay Ortis' assertion and denies any connection with secret services. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

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A company that offers an encrypted email service is contesting the assertion of a former official of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who argued at his trial that the firm worked secretly on behalf of the RCMP. an intelligence agency.

At his trial in Ontario Superior Court, Cameron Jay Ortis testified that a foreign ally told him about a plan to encourage targets of investigation to start using Tutanota , an online encryption service that he called a front operation created by intelligence agents to spy on adversaries.

Mr. Ortis said he then began luring targets of the investigation by promising them secret information, with the aim, in effect, of getting them to communicate with him through the Tutanota encryption service.< /p>

In a statement posted on its website Monday, Tuta, as the company is now called, called Mr. Ortis' claims completely false and denied any connection to secret services.

Tutanota has never operated and Tuta will never operate a "storefront" for any intelligence or law enforcement agency, the German company said. This would completely contradict our mission as a privacy organization.

Tutao GmbH, the company behind Tuta, was founded in 2011 by Arne Möhle and Matthias Pfau, who knew each other from having studied together at the University of Hannover , in Germany, adds the press release.

To date, the company is 100% owned by Matthias and Arne and does not depend on anyone else.

Cameron Jay Ortis, 51, has pleaded not guilty to violating the Privacy Act by revealing secrets to three people and attempting to do so in a fourth instance, as well as x27;breach of trust and computer offense.

The Crown argues that Mr. Ortis did not have the authority to disclose classified documents and that he was not doing so as part of some sort of undercover operation.

Mr. Ortis said he did not tell his superiors about the plan to trick the targets into using Tutanota because his foreign counterpart advised him not to say anything and, what's more, the targets had sources within Canadian law enforcement.

Journalists and the general public were barred from the courtroom for Mr. Ortis' testimony earlier this month, but the transcripts have now been released.

M. Ortis was the director of the RCMP Operations Research Group, which compiled and developed classified information on terrorist cells, transnational criminal networks, cybercriminals and commercial espionage.

He was arrested in September 2019.

The process leading to this arrest began the previous year, when the RCMP analyzed the content of #x27;a laptop belonging to Vincent Ramos, president and CEO of Phantom Secure Communications, who had been arrested in the United States.

An RCMP operation known as Project Saturation revealed that members of criminal organizations were using Phantom Secure's encrypted communications devices.

Ramos later pleaded guilty to using his Phantom Secure devices to facilitate the distribution of cocaine and other illicit drugs to several countries, including Canada.

A retired RCMP investigator told the jury he found an email addressed to Ramos from an unknown sender containing parts of several documents, including mention of documents from the ;federal anti-money laundering agency, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC).

L& #x27;sender later offered to provide Ramos with the complete documents in exchange for $20,000.

Mr. Ortis admits he was behind the messages to Ramos and others, saying it was all part of the covert operation involving Tutanota.

Under cross-examination, Mr. Ortis generally downplayed the sensitivity of the documents presented to the targets.

At one point, Crown prosecutor John MacFarlane questioned Mr. Ortis about a page of a FINTRAC disclosure summary sent to Ramos.

M. MacFarlane suggested that disclosing the information confirmed to Ramos that FINTRAC was investigating his company, revealing the number of suspicious transactions the agency had reported.

M. Ortis responded that he believed Ramos was already aware of the authorities' interest in, if not this particular set of data.

When a company has problems with its accounts and banks notice suspicious transactions, the bank itself provides information about these suspicious transactions.

GRC: an alleged violation of secrecy by a senior official deemed “serious”


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