Google CEO Sundar Pichai has come out in support of his opposite number at Apple, Tim Cook, after the latter denied the FBI’s request to hack into the iPhone of the terrorist behind last year’s San Bernardino attacks.
Taking to Twitter, Pichai said: “Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users' privacy.”
He called Cook’s intervention "important" and went on to say that hacking customer devices at the request of the authorities “could set a troubling precedent".
Earlier this week, Cook responded forcefully to the FBI’s demands that Apple hack into the iPhone of the man who masterminded the San Bernardino attack in December 2015, which left 14 people dead and 22 serious wounded.
While Cook said Apple was happy to work with the authorities when data it had was subpoenaed, he refused to hack into someone’s phone by creating a so–called backdoor through which authorities can access private information.
“The FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation.
"In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession,” wrote Cook.
Cook went on to explain: “The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true.
"Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices.”
Cook’s letter, and Pichai’s response, is likely to resonant far beyond the San Bernardino case.
Here in the UK, the so–called Snoopers Charter is also likely to put government agencies on a collision course with tech companies unwilling to create technology which could compromise users’ safety.