Tech giants are coming under mounting pressure from US lawmakers to make private customer data accessible to law enforcement.
In a rare show of unity, both Republicans and Democrats grilled Apple and Facebook executives during a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week.
“You’re going to find a way to do this or we’re going to go do it for you,” said Senator Lindsey Graham to the companies’ representatives. “We’re not going to live in a world where a bunch of child abusers have a safe haven to practice their craft. Period. End of discussion.”
In recent months, government officials from the US, UK and Australia asked Facebook not to go through with the planned end-to-end encryption of all messaging software unless they leave a “back door” for law enforcement.
Facebook rejected the request, asserting that the back door would serve as a “gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes.”
Both Apple and Facebook have a long history of altercations with government regulators and legislators over privacy issues.
During Tuesday’s testimony, Facebook messaging privacy chief Jay Sullivan and Apple privacy head Erik Neuenschwander each directed government scrutiny toward the other’s business.
Sullivan said the social media giant was open to device scanning proposals in order to identify illegal content. Neuenschwander fired back saying, Apple does not collect material of its users “to build profiles of them”.