WhatsApp Chief Jan Koum and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai have come to the defense of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in its decision to contest a recent US Federal Court’s order to open its smartphones to government inspection. The order requires Apple to devise a special version of iOS to give the FBI access to data on a terror suspect’s iPhone.
On Twitter, Google CEO Sundar Pichai warned that following the court’s order might compromise a user’s privacy. He stated that the company realizes that law enforcement, as well as intelligence agencies have to protect people against terrorism. Google makes secure products to keep users’ information safe and give law enforcement entities access to data only on valid legal orders. He also added that it is completely different from requiring organizations to enable hacking of users’ devices. He concluded by saying that this would set a disturbing precedent. Pichai further added that he was seeking an open discussion on this important issue.
Jan Koum, WhatsApp CEO took to Facebook to support Apple’s position. He said that he has always respected Tim Cook for his position on privacy issues and Apple’s commitment to safeguarding users’ data. He is in fact in support of Apple’s Customer Letter. He added that the dangerous precedent should not be allowed and that the public’s liberty is at risk.
Tim Cook commented that the court’s order posed a threat to the security of Apple users. Cook also noted that if a special iOS is built it could be used to hack other devices as well.
Apple as well as certain civil liberties entities view this case as the start of a much bigger government attempt to compromise the security of users’ smartphone data. Law enforcement officials are of the opinion that smartphone encryption is making it more difficult for them to do their jobs. Technology companies say that following requests from law enforcement entities will make it very difficult or even impossible to protect their users.
Granting law enforcement entities the power to compel technology organizations to hack into their users’ devices is frightening. However, the court may deliver a decision that permits access only in special cases without jeopardizing innocent users’ privacy.