BlackBerry CEO criticizes Apple for refusal to decrypt data for law enforcement

John Chen Interview
BNN
Encryption and cybersecurity is a hot debate right now, especially in the tech world. Congress recently slipped the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act into the budget bill, and there’s much talk from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others about encryption. BlackBerry’s CEO is trying to offer a way forward — after taking a shot at Apple.

“It’s time both sides of this encryption debate accept that pointing fingers is counterproductive.”

CEO John Chen wrote a blog post to describe the current encryption debate, and what BlackBerry is doing to help the discussion move forward. Chen says companies should offer assistance when government officials ask for access to criminals’ encrypted data and slammed Apple for refusing to do so in a recent case.

“In fact, one of the world’s most powerful tech companies recently refused a lawful access request in an investigation of a known drug dealer because doing so would ‘substantially tarnish the brand‘ of the company,” Chen said in the blog post. “We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good.”

On devices running iOS 8 or higher, Apple actually can’t pull encrypted data from a locked iPhone, and the company also employs end-to-end encryption technology on its iMessage platform, protecting your messages. CEO Tim Cook said Apple has no desire to hand over any data to anyone, with or without a warrant.

But Chen says that BlackBerry rejects the idea that lawful access requests should be refused by tech companies, comparing it to how individual citizens bear responsibility to help prevent crime when they safely can. He’s also not saying the company is just giving away your data.

“It is also true that corporations must reject attempts by federal agencies to overstep,” Chen said. “BlackBerry has refused to place backdoors in its devices and software. We have never allowed government access to our servers and never will. We have made decisions to exit national markets when the jurisdictional authorities demand access that would abuse the privacy of law-abiding citizens.”

After not-so-subtlety attacking Apple, Chen said companies should stop doing what he just did.

“It’s time both sides of this encryption debate accept that pointing fingers is counterproductive,” he said. “Technology, over the course of human existence, can be both used and abused. We all have a right to privacy as well as public protection.”

Chen is also against banning or disabling encryption, saying that if it was banned, criminals would write their own encryption apps and would have better tools than ordinary citizens, which would be detrimental to personal privacy. He says it’s important and practical to have a policy that supports law enforcement, without giving up user’s privacy.

BlackBerry prides itself on building the most secure smartphone operating system, and it seems as though the company is settling in the middle of the encryption debate, not going so far as Apple, which cannot access iPhone data even if it wanted to. Chen’s not saying anything new in this blog post, though and is simply bashing Apple’s privacy standards, while emphasizing that BlackBerry is good for the consumer and for the government.

Cars

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Mobile

Huawei has a bold Plan B should tensions affect its software relationships

Huawei has its own software for smartphones and computers prepared, should its relationship with Google and Microsoft be adversely affected by ongoing tensions between it and the U.S..
Mobile

Think iPhones can’t get viruses? Our expert explains why it could happen

If your iPhone has been acting strangely, then you may be concerned about the possibility it is infected with a virus or some malware. We take a look at just how likely that is and explain why iOS is considered relatively safe.
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Mobile

Apple’s new iPads are hardly new at all. Don’t waste your money

It has taken Apple four years to get around to updating the iPad Mini line, but the new iPad Mini is virtually identical to its predecessor. It’s joined by a confusing iPad Air with no obvious target audience. Is Apple just trying to sell…
Mobile

iPad Air vs. iPad Mini: Which new tablet from Apple is best for you?

Apple has unveiled two new iPad models, including a new iPad Air and a new iPad Mini. Both devices have a lot to offer. But which iPad is right for your needs? We put the iPad Air and iPad Mini to the test to find out.
Mobile

Even older Apple Watches could be effective at spotting heart conditions

The Apple Watch Series 4 is known for detecting heart conditions like atrial fibrillation thanks to having an electrocardiograph feature. It turns out that older Apple Watches could be effective at tracking AFib, too.
Deals

The best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…
Mobile

The Black Shark 2’s Ludicrous Mode promises the smoothest mobile gaming

Xiaomi-backed Black Shark has a follow-up to last year's Black Shark gaming phone, complete with high specs and a low price. Here's everything we know about the Black Shark 2 gaming phone.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for March 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for March 2018.
Deals

Amazon drops price on Apple Watch Series 4 with a rare deal

Since Apple first unveiled the Series 4, the price for one has pretty much held fast. This has finally started to change with a nice little $15 discount on Amazon. If you've been wanting the newest Apple Watch, now is a great time.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Mobile

Google's midrange Pixels might be called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Gaming

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs brings 3D demolition into your living room

Angry Birds is releasing its next entry in the spring of 2019 - with a new spin. Bringing 3D environments and destruction, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs uses augmented reality to add a new dimension to a classic series.