In a post on it official blog yesterday, Blackberry CEO John Chen hit out at tech companies like Apple that "put their reputations over the greater good" by providing and advertising strong encryption and data privacy policies to all users, even criminals.
Chen did not name Apple outright, but he pointed to a recent development in which "one of the world's most powerful tech companies" turned down law enforcement requests to unlock a smartphone belonging to a known drug dealer.
Apple told a US District Court at the time that it was "substantially burdensome" to gain access to an iPhone running iOS 8 or iOS 9, due to full-disk encryption featured in the OS.
The iPhone was running iOS7, which meant Apple could technically extract data with a lawful warrant, but according to a lawyer representing the company such action would "substantially tarnish the brand."
"We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good," Chen said. "At BlackBerry, we understand, arguably more than any other large tech company, the importance of our privacy commitment to product success and brand value: privacy and security form the crux of everything we do. However, our privacy commitment does not extend to criminals."
With the blog, Chen has taken a position squarely opposed to the stance of Apple, Google, and other firms that had pushed encryption as a force for good, one that provided security and privacy to their users.
Apple and Google had both taken steps to ensure law enforcement and intelligence agencies could not access vast swathes of smartphone-stored data by handing over encryption keys to the user.
In other words, data from iPhones and iPads and newer Android devices could not be accessed by US Federal authorities unless the user handed over his passcode.
That had caused huge problems for law enforcement, which they had had no problem in sharing with the world.
According to commentators, Apple and Google had taken a utilitarian approach towards security in that everyone could have it, with no exceptions.