The Microsoft co-founder added that the standoff between Apple and the FBI should spark a wider debate about government data requests.
Apple has been embroiled in a fight with the U.S. law enforcement branch since it was discovered the perpetrators of the San Bernardino terrorist shootings were using an iPhone to coordinate their efforts.
The FBI ruled that Apple should help to unlock the iPhone, something Cupertino said it will not do because the device is pass locked.
A judge’s ruling said Apple should provide necessary technical assistance, but CEO Tim Cook has refused to so, something Bill Gates says he disagrees with.
Speaking to the BBC, Gates said “This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information,” Gates said. “They are not asking for some general thing — they are asking for a particular case.
“It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records. Let’s say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said, ‘Don’t make me cut this ribbon because you’ll make me cut it many times.‘”
Gates is arguing that this specific case warrants Apple’s help and it does not mean the floodgates open for the government to demand such information from all technology companies. However, the law is on Apple’s side and so are other technology companies, including Microsoft, which endorsed Apple’s decision last week.
It is worth noting that Bill Gates is distanced from Microsoft these days as he focuses on his philanthropic endeavors, so his opinion is a personal one. Indeed, Gates is generally going against the grain here, with the tech community and even the public generally thinking Apple is correct to seek a clearer understanding of what the government is allowed to request.
“We feel the best way forward would be for the government to withdraw its demands under the All Writs Act and, as some in Congress have proposed, form a commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms,” Cook told employees in a letter discovered by BuzzFeed.