Apple and the US government have clashed after the iPhone maker declined to comply with a court order to let officials monitor the communications of its customers.
The situation has underlined the growing debate over the enhanced privacy and security technologies in use on smartphones and other popular services that governments claim hamper their ability to stop criminals and terrorists.
A report on The New York Times said that the Department of Justice ordered Apple to provide real-time access to text messages being sent over the iMessage service between two suspected criminals.
However, Apple said that it was unable to provide such access as the encryption it offers to customers is not something the firm can decrypt.
This led to a tense stand-off between the company and the government, and some top DoJ officials considered taking Apple to court over the matter, according to the report.
This plan was not followed through, but it underlines the growing tensions between governments and large technology companies that have so much communications data flowing across their networks.
V3 contacted Apple for comment on the report but had received no reply at time of publication.
Apple is not the first company to clash with the US government over data access. Microsoft is involved in a long-running case over data stored on its servers overseas.
Microsoft argues that being required to hand over the data will create a dangerous legal precedent that not only undermines the services it can offer customers, but would enable other nations, such as China or Russia, to demand data stored in the US.
The case has been going on for some time, and the government has won most of the initial cases. However, Microsoft has appealed each time and the case is set to be heard again on Wednesday at a federal appeals court in New York.
The outcome will have huge implications for the technology sector, particularly with regards to cloud computing services and where data is stored, as it will make it irrelevant if it is stored in a home nation because governments can still access it.
Meanwhile, UK prime minister David Cameron has indicated that he would like to stop services such as WhatsApp offering encryption that acts as a "safe haven" for criminals to communicate.
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