Apple vs FBI on ‘Unlocking’ Gunman’s iPhone: Google Picks Side


Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai has sided with Apple after a US judge ruled that the Cupertino tech mogul must assist the FBI in obtaining data from a password-protected iPhone 5c that was used by one of the gunmen in the recent San Bernardino shooting. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has also responded to the FBI with an open letter, stating that the company would not comply with the court’s request and provide backdoor access.

Pichai took it to Twitter and explained that Cook’s open letter is of vital importance in the longstanding discussion of national security and user privacy. Pichai notes that the search engine giant respects and understands that challenges that the law enforcement faces. While Google provides data access “based on valid legal orders,” it’s entirely different from “requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data,” which is essentially what the FBI is requiring Apple to do.

San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik had removed a hard drive from their computers and destroyed two of their personally-owned handsets. However, FBI investigators are unable to access Farook’s iPhone that runs on iOS 9 which has a security feature enabled that will wipe data after 10 consecutive passcode error attempts.

According to Forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski, Apple will probably have to write a custom code in order to comply with the court’s ruling. However, he also noted that even without Apple’s permission, the FBI should be able to hack into the device with the help of the NSA as well as the CIA.

While both tech giants Apple and Google have been at each other’s throats for years now, it’s still good to see that even companies with longstanding rivalries can still come together when it comes to privacy. Pichai ends his barrage of Twitter posts saying that requiring companies “to enable hacking of customer services & data” could be a “troubling precedent,” and he’s “looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion” on the important issue at hand.

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