Apple took a big stand yesterday, with CEO Tim Cook using an open letter to tell the United States government (and customers) that they won't provide a backdoor to access the private, secured content of iPhone users.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation wants Apple to provide access to the secured contents of an iPhone 5c owned by a gunman in the December mass shooting in San Bernadino, California, and a U.S. judge ordered the company to comply. Cook says Apple has delivered the data stored on iCloud, but they refuse to honour the request to create a loophole to tap into to what's stored on the phone itself, as allowing backdoor access could undermine the privacy of all users and put them at risk.
No doubt, it's a decision that is generating a lot of discussion, both for and against Apple's stance on the matter - but Google apparently has their back. Although his response isn't quite as assured as Apple's, Google CEO Sundar Pichai posted a series of tweets last night, praising Cook's "important post" and saying that "forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users' privacy."
He acknowledges that law enforcement agencies are under a lot of stress, but adds, "We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders. But that's wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent."
Given the nods toward law enforcement, Pichai's comments might seem a little wishy-washy compared to Cook's; then again, this isn't Pichai's immediate problem to manage. Ultimately, it's an important affirmation that the tech giants that we trust with our data aren't going to fold at the first sign of pressure, although Apple will surely see much more scrutiny about this situation before all is said and done.