NEW YORK: BlackBerry chief executive John Chen has questioned whether Apple's stringent approach to encryption and user privacy is sensible, warning that the firm's attitude could be harmful to society.
Speaking at the BlackBerry Security Summit in New York, Chen was quizzed about his opinion on government requests for customer data, and used it as a chance to criticise Apple, even if he avoided mentioning the firm directly.
"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."
Chen's comments relate to the case earlier this year in which Apple faced off against the FBI over whether to provide backdoor access to an iPhone 5C used by a terrorist.
BlackBerry's stance is somewhat surprising considering the firm's reputation for keeping sensitive data over its network secure, but Chen said that as long as the guidelines are clear and adhered to there is nothing wrong with handing over data.
"Of course, there need to be clear guidelines. The guidelines we've adopted require legal assets. A subpoena for certain data. But if you have the data, you should give it to them," he said.
However, Chen was also at pains to dismiss claims in the past that BlackBerry has given user data to governments.
"There’s some complete nonsense about what we can and can’t do. People are mad at us that we let the government have the data. It’s absolute garbage. We can’t do that," he said.
Chen also warned that plans being mooted by governments in the US and Europe, including the UK, to force firms to create mandatory backdoors are not a good idea.
"There's proposed legislation in the US, and I'm sure it will come to the EU, that every vendor needs to provide some form of a backdoor. That is not going to fly at all. It just isn't," he said.
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