Bill Gates on Apple-FBI fight: ‘Government shouldn’t have to be completely blind’ – Los Angeles Times

Microsoft Corp. cofounder Bill Gates has jumped into the debate over Apple Inc.‘s fight with the FBI over unlocking an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack, saying “the government shouldn’t have to be completely blind.”

In an interview with the Financial Times published early Tuesday, Gates disagreed with Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook‘s stance that creating the software requested by the federal government would build a back door that would make its products’ security easier to breach.

“This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information,” he said. “They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case.”

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Later Tuesday morning, Gates tempered his remarks in an interview on Bloomberg Go, saying he was disappointed by reports that he backed the FBI.

“That doesn’t state my view on this,” he said. “I do believe there are sets of safeguards where the government shouldn’t have to be completely blind.”

Gates said there needs to be a balance between privacy and government access to information. Ultimately, he said, the courts will decide this issue.

“You don’t just want to take the minute after a terrorist event and swing that direction, nor do you, in general, want to completely swing away from government access when you get some abuse being revealed,” Gates said. “You want to strike that balance.”

“Clearly the government’s taken information historically and used it in ways we didn’t expect, going all the way back to the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover,” he said.

Last week, Apple opposed a federal judge’s order demanding it help unlock an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters in December’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

The Cupertino, Calif., company said it objected to the court order because the order could set a legal precedent that could expand the government’s powers and possibly lead to requests for software that would enable officials to do other things, such as record conversations or track a user’s location.

Other tech leaders have also spoken out about the issue, such as Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, who tweeted their support for Cook and Apple last week.

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