Google CEO picks a side in Apple's fight with the FBI

Sundar Pichai

Following Tim Cook's letter slamming the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's demands to create a backdoor into an iPhone, Google CEO Sundar Pichai weighed in on the situation in a series of tweets Wednesday.

Though succinct, Pichai conveys that he stands with Apple's CEO.

"Important post by @tim_cook," he tweeted. "Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users' privacy."

Pichai acknowledged that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face "significant challenges in protecting the public against crime and terrorism," and said that Google builds secure products to keep user information safe, but also hands over data "based on valid legal orders."

"But that's wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent," he went on, referring to a court order demanding Apple create a special version of iOS that would allow the FBI to access an iPhone used by one of shooters in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack.

He concluded: "Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue."

Pichai's tweets come after a day of debate as to whether Apple is doing the right thing by refusing to comply with the court order.

Cook wrote in an open letter that doing so would create a master key to encryption that could be used repeatedly, on any number of devices, putting users private data at risk. Cook called the implications of the government's demands "chilling."

Google had remained silent for most of Wednesday, a silence that some, including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, saw as the company picking a side that wasn't "the public's."

However, Pichai's warning that forcing companies to hack users devices could set such a precedent is encouraging for users of Android and the tech world at large.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.