The tech industry has been generally supportive of Apple in its fight against the FBI's demand to unlock an iPhone linked to the San Bernardino shootings, but one big name is on the FBI's side: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who seems unswayed by fears of compromised security and a potential legal precedent.
"This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case," Gates tells the Financial Times, disagreeing with Apple CEO Tim Cook that the FBI's request would create an iPhone backdoor. "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.'"
"I hope that we have that debate."
"I hope that we have that debate so that the safeguards are built and so people do not opt — and this will be country by country — [to say] it is better that the government does not have access to any information," he continues, believing that there must be rules on when the government is able to access such data.
Gates' former company has signaled approval of Apple's stance, along with the CEOs of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others, though current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is yet to comment on the matter beside retweeting a statement in support of Apple by the Reform Government Surveillance group.
Update 9:40am ET: Bill Gates stated on Bloomberg TV this morning that reports about his supporting the FBI's fight against Apple were misrepresented, saying "that doesn't state my view on this."