Bill Gates backs FBI against Apple in encryption tussle

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has added his voice to the Apple vs FBI encryption debate, and he hasn’t picked the side you might have expected.

In recent weeks, the FBI has initiated a court order to try and force Apple to provide a back door into its iOS software. It wants access to a specific iPhone related to the recent San Bernardino shootings in the US, but Apple believes it sets a ‘chilling’ precedent that would compromise the safety of its users’ data.

One by one, the world’s major tech companies are lining up behind Apple in this emerging encryption war. Even Apple’s oldest foe Microsoft provided its vague support in recent days.

However, Microsoft’s famous co-founder, Bill Gates, seems to feel differently. The world’s richest man (he genuinely can’t seem to give the stuff away) spoke to the Financial Times recently, and appeared to dismiss Apple’s stance.

“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,” said Gates.

Related: Apple vs the FBI: Your questions answered

“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,” explained Gates. “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’.”

We can only imagine what Steve Jobs would have had to say about his old foe’s contribution to the debate.


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