Silicon Valley, CA: Sundar Pichai, chief executive of tech giant Google, has joined the escalating battle between the FBI and Apple over iPhone encryption. Describing the letter published by Apple’s Tim Cook as “important,” Pichai says that a judge’s order forcing Apple to assist the FBI in gaining access to the data on a terrorist’s iPhone “could be a troubling precedent.” Seeing as Google oversees the Android operating system, Pichai is a crucial voice in this debate; Android also offers encryption to safeguard personal data.
“We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders,” Pichai tweeted moments ago. “But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data.” Pichai seems to side squarely with Cook. “Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy.” Google’s CEO said he’s “looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue.”
That echoes the words of Cook, who in his letter wrote “This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.” At this point it seems like not a matter of if, but when other influential tech CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella will weigh in on the matter.
Pichai was recently given a king’s ransom in stocks by the company. The Indian American, who was named to his post in August as part of a corporate restructuring when Google became a subsidiary of Alphabet, a new company run by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin was granted 273,328 Class C shares by Google Feb. 3. The shares amount to roughly $199 million.
Pichai, who joined Google in 2004, is generally known as a soft-spoken but highly effective manager. After leading efforts to build the company’s Chrome browser and related products, Pichai was given responsibility in 2013 for Google’s Android mobile operating system — a crucial role as the company was seeing much of its Internet business shift to mobile devices. The stock award by Google catapults Pichai to one of the highest paid CEOs. According to Equilar, the highest paid CEO of 2014 was David Zaslav of Discovery Communications.