The CEO of BlackBerry blogged last week about how “our privacy commitment does not extend to criminals”. He accused Apple of placing “their [reputation] above the greater good” when the company explained to a court why they can't and shouldn't provide access to encrypted iOS devices.
John Chen would like companies to go beyond the law and do what's “ethical”, citing the responsibility of citizens to “help thwart crime when they can safely do so”.
Mr. Chen, writing on behalf of BlackBerry, says that “[w]e reject the notion that tech companies should refuse reasonable, lawful access requests.” By “lawful access” he either means legally-required access (which companies can't refuse) or police-requested access (which companies can refuse). I suspect Mr. Chen is talking about the latter, since he thinks that companies should go beyond the law and do what is “ethical”, and Apple wasn't refusing a court order in his cited example.
But what is ethical for a company to do? If it's more than what's legally required then who's ethics are being applied? The CEO? The board? Employees? Shareholders? Some combination?
An important benefit of laws is that everyone can find out what the rules are and where they stand. Considering the threats that already exist to the privacy of our digital lives at the close of 2015, I would prefer that companies at the center of our digital lives play by the public rules rather than their own.
BlackBerry ought to live up to the name of their latest phone: Priv.
I support Apple's pro-privacy position, BlackBerry should too.