BlackBerry CEO criticises Apple's stance on privacy

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has used the company blog to lash out at Apple's privacy practices, criticising its approach and saying that the greater good should not be above its reputation.

"For years, government officials have pleaded to the technology industry for help yet have been met with disdain,” he writes. “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.”

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has said, in multiple occasions, that his company will not co-operate with the authorities and give away private data, unless it is forced to do so.

Chen does not agree Apple should take that stance.

“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.”

BlackBerry has created its entire brand around the idea of data protection and privacy. Its smartphones are considered one of the most secure in the world, with the likes of U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy using one.

Chen believes his company is in a “unique position” to help the two sides, the tech companies and the government, find common ground.

"We reject the notion that tech companies should refuse reasonable, lawful access requests," he wrote. "Just as individual citizens bear responsibility to help thwart crime when they can safely do so, so do corporations have a responsibility to do what they can."