As the debate between Apple and the federal government about whether the tech giant should unlock data from a terrorist’s smartphone, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins says companies should not be required to build “backdoors” into products.

On Tuesday, Robbins told Computer Reseller News that he knows the Apple-FBI dispute is “incredibly complicated.”

However, he added: “I don’t believe we should put backdoors in our products or any technology company should put backdoors in their technologies … it could weaken the privacy or security of solutions.

“There is no easy answer to this. … I believe encryption is incredibly important for protecting citizens’ data and health-care information. All the reasons encryption was implemented are valid reasons.”

Robbins was interviewed at the Mobile World Congress in Spain. Cisco operates one of its largest campuses in RTP.

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Apple vs FBI update

Microsoft’s Bill Gates supports the government argument, but other tech company executives have stood with Apple.

Apple, meanwhile, says it has worked with the government in the past on such issues but adds it is challenging government efforts to overcome encryption on at least 14 electronic devices nationwide in addition to the phone of a San Bernardino, California, shooter.

Lawyers told U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein in Brooklyn that Apple is opposing relinquishing information on at least 15 devices in a dozen court cases in California, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York.

In a Feb. 17 letter unsealed Tuesday, the Cupertino, California-based company described fighting the government in criminal cases after first opposing the government in a request to extract information from the phone of a drug dealer in Brooklyn federal court in October.

Before that, the government says, Apple had helped it retrieve information from at least 70 devices since 2008.

Apple’s opposition began after Orenstein invited the company to challenge the government’s use of a 1789 law, the All Writs Act, which the government cited in the Brooklyn case.

Apple said the government was trying to use the law more aggressively in its effort to look inside the iPhone of a shooter in the Dec. 2 massacre in San Bernardino that killed 14 people.

In the California case, Apple was being asked “to perform even more burdensome and involved engineering … to create and load Apple-signed software onto the subject iPhone device to circumvent the security and anti-tampering features of the device in order to enable the government to hack the passcode to obtain access to the protected data,” the letter signed by Apple attorney Marc Zwillinger said.

Zwillinger said the California case was proof that “the issue remains quite pressing” since Orenstein first raised questions about the applicability of the All Writs Act.