Bill Gates Sides With FBI Over iPhone Unlocking [Update: Bill Gates Feels ‘Disappointed']

Illustration for article titled Bill Gates Sides With FBI Over iPhone Unlocking [Update: Bill Gates Feels ‘Disappointed]

Bill Gates has come out in support of the FBI over its battle with Apple about unlocking an iPhone as part of the San Bernardino case.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Gates argues that Apple’s co-operation would not set a meaningful precedent. The FBI, he reckons, is “not asking for some general thing, [it’s] asking for a particular case.” He goes on to provide an analogy:

It is no different than... 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 isn’t alone. A new study published yesterday by the Pew Research Center revealed that 51 percent of those surveyed thoughts Apple should work with the FBI. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s chief Sundar Pichai are both siding with Apple.

Yesterday, Cook proposed an independent commission review the case to settle the matter.

Update: In an interview with Bloomberg TV this morning, Gates says he was “disappointed” that reports placed him in the FBI’s corner. Here’s what he said in response to the supporting the Feds:

“I was disappointed because that doesn’t state my view on this. I do believe that with the right safeguards, there are cases that the government on our behalf, like stopping terrorism that could get worse in the future, that that is valuable. But striking that balance—clearly the government has taken information historically and used it in ways we didn’t expect, going all the way back to the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. So, I’m hoping now we can have the discussion. I do believe there are a set of safeguards so the government shouldn’t have to be completely blind.”



Image by AP


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I’ve had a few, so I might not be thinking this out too clearly, but I look at it like this: it’s like saying a warrant to search a residence will automatically mean every residence is at risk for the feds to bust down the door.

Just because they open this one phone for the feds doesn’t open the floodgates to have every iPhone broken open on a whim. Haven’t the feds been more than happy to let Apple control the whole process? If that’s the case, I fail to see how this opens up the possibility of abuse on a large scale.