It has been a wild 24 hours when it comes to smartphone encryption and user privacy versus national security. Last night, a U.S. judge ruled that Apple must help the FBI obtain data from a passcode-locked iPhone 5c used by one of the gunmen in the fatal San Bernardino shooting. Just hours later, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded by posting an open letter on Apple’s homepage saying that Apple would not comply with the court’s request. Now, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has chimed in on the matter, saying that he agrees with Cook.
In a series of tweets, Pichai explained that Cook’s open letter plays a very important role in the discussion of national security versus user privacy. The Google CEO then acknowledged that law enforcement is put in a tough situation when dealing with these kind of cases, while also noting that Google gives law enforcement access to data “based on valid legal orders.” With that said, however, Pichai went on to explain that doing that is far different than allowing “hacking of customer device and data,” which is essentially what the FBI is asking Apple to do.
Pichai wrapped up his tweet storm saying it could set a “troubling precedent” and that he’s “looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue.”
While Pichai seems to imply that he agrees with Cook for the most part, his reply is considerably more vague and open to interpretation than Apple’s. While other tech moguls, such as the founder of WhatsApp, have been incredibly vocal in their responses to the issue, Pichai limited his to a series of five vague tweets in which he doesn’t take a very firm stance on the issue. It feels like he really would rather not offer an opinion on the topic and is only doing so at the request of Android users everywhere.
Nevertheless, it’s pleasing to see Google’s CEO express some opinion on one of the biggest stories in technology and even politics right now. You can view Pichai’s full tweet storm below: