Google CEO Sundar Pichai is backing Apple in its battle with federal authorities over iPhone security.
"Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy," Pichai said in one of a series of tweets about the controversy. He added that an order requiring Apple to enable authorities to hack a device "could be a troubling precedent."
Pichai's comments come in response to a court order requiring Apple to help the FBI decrypt an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Specifically, the order directs Apple to disable software that blocks people out of devices after 10 wrong password entries.
Appe CEO Tim Cook said this week the company will fight the order. "In the wrong hands, this software -- which does not exist today -- would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession," he wrote in an online letter to customers.
"The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers -- including tens of millions of American citizens -- from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals," Cook added. "The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe."
The FBI argues that the 1789 All Writs Act empowers judges to order Apple to create
the new software. But Apple will likely argue that creating new software is burdensome, and that courts can't use the All Writs Act to make Apple a party to the FBI's investigation of the
hooters, legal experts told Ars Technica.
While the order issued this week has drawn tremendous media attention, the issue isn't new: The FBI and Apple also battled over encryption in a New York court last year.
In that case, which hasn't yet been decided, Apple reportedly argued against the "commandeering of Apple personnel and resources to do the government’s investigative work."