WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Google CEO Sundar Pichai is supporting Apple in its fight against the federal government, which ordered the tech giant to create a "back door" into the cellphone data of the San Bernardino attackers.
Pichai voiced his support for Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, through a series of tweets on Thursday. While acknowledging law enforcement faces challenges to protect the public, Pichai said "forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users' privacy."
"We know that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face significant challenges in protecting the public against crime and terrorism," Pichai wrote. "We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders.
"But that's wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data. Could be a troubling precedent. Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue," Pichai concluded.
In a letter to customers Wednesday, Cook expressed his opposition to a federal judge court order -- calling it "chilling" and "dangerous."
The FBI wants Apple to make a new version of the iPhone operating system that will circumvent several security features once installed on an iPhone recovered during the San Bernardino investigation, effectively creating a "back door."
Cook said Apple has "done everything that is both within our power and within the law" to help the FBI conduct its investigation into the San Bernardino massacre, in which 14 people were killed.
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck also said he was supporting Apple.
"This is insanity. Tim Cook is right!" Beck wrote in a Facebook post Thursday. "The government CANNOT bully private companies ... I stand with Apple and I encourage you to do the same ... Apple is on the right side of history on this issue."
The data on the attackers' phone might tell investigators what the couple was doing between their attack at a office holiday party on Dec. 2 and their deaths in a firefight with police shortly thereafter. There is an 18-minute gap in their couple's whereabouts the FBI has been unable to fill in. The data might also tell them if the two conspired with others for the attack.
The attack at the Inland Regional Center by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik was the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.