BlackBerry CEO John Chen took a dig at Apple’s approach to the privacy of users in a blog post, saying, “Our privacy commitment does not extend to criminals.” Even though Chen does not name Apple directly, he links an ArsTechnica article which reports that a New York federal judge is not happy with Apple’s stance in a case related to an iPhone belonging to a suspected drug dealer.
Apple open about its privacy approach
Apple has always been saying that its approach towards privacy is fundamental and that it will not comply with government agencies when it does not have to. Chen feels that Apple must not restrict it such a stance.
“For years, government officials have pleaded to the technology industry for help. Yet [the requests] have been met with disdain,” Chen said.
For both iMessages and FaceTime, Apple has been using end-to-end encryption, making it impossible even for the firm itself to decrypt them. With iOS 8, the company also came up with strong encryption for iOS devices, making locked devices inaccessible.
Apple’s approach to privacy has been widely criticized by many, including the DOJ, the U.S. Attorney General, the FBI and other government agencies. The CIA and the Homeland Security Committee also opposed such a stance after the Paris attacks.
BlackBerry in favor of lawful access
Talking of the Apple case, Chen said “one of the world’s most powerful” tech firms denied an access request for an investigation of a drug dealer. Such a stance, according to Chen, can “substantially tarnish the brand.”
“We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good.”
BlackBerry is seen as the most secure smartphone operating system, and that’s the reason many powerful politicians trust it. U.S. President Barack Obama uses a BlackBerry, and so does ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
According to Chen, BlackBerry is in a position to bring both government and companies together on this debate. BlackBerry is never in favor of tech firms denying lawful access to requests, Chen said. Explaining his stance, Chen says that, similar to individuals who have the responsibility to help in restricting crime, corporations also share the responsibility to do “what they can.”