The Apple vs. FBI legal battle over the San Bernardino case in early 2016 was one of the most important events of the year so far, as user privacy, device security and terrorism converged in a single case. On one hand, we have Apple, keen on protecting everyone’s privacy. On the other hand, there’s the FBI, a law enforcement agency that demands access to any communication device that may have been used during the plotting of a heinous crime. Apple won that battle, and while many from the tech sector sided with the iPhone company in its fight against the FBI, there was one notable company that argued that encryption has to be broken when the government needs it: BlackBerry.
The irony did not escape us then, and it doesn’t escape us now — BlackBerry’s CEO still thinks Apple is wrong.
For years, BlackBerry’s data security was one its most important marketing tools, so you’d think BlackBerry would be a strong supporter of Apple. That’s not the case, however, as BlackBerry’s CEO thinks it’s not okay for Apple to protect criminals with encryption.
John Chen reiterated that point of view recently during the BlackBerry Security Summit, Patently Apple reports.
“One of our competitors, we call it ‘the other fruit company,’ has an attitude that it doesn’t matter how much it might hurt society, they’re not going to help […],” he said. “I found that disturbing as a citizen. I think BlackBerry, like any company, should have a basic civil responsibility. If the world is in danger, we should be able to help out.”
I find it disturbing as a consumer that the CEO of a tech company believes encryption should be accessible to law enforcement, no matter how noble the motive. Of note, however, Chen’s remarks should not be interpreted as signs that BlackBerry phones aren’t secure. But at this point, it’s not clear what data the company can and cannot share with the US government.