Bill Gates, the co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 26, 2015.
Photo by Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

Bill Gates: Apple could propose a balance in FBI dispute


Bill Gates answered some questions about Apple’s ongoing dispute with the FBI during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” on Tuesday — and stuck solidly to the same neutral position he’s maintained in earlier comments.

“I think there needs to be a discussion about when the government should be able to gather information,” Gates said in response to one Redditor’s question. “What if we had never had wiretapping? Also the government needs to talk openly about safeguards.”

Gates first gave his thoughts on the matter — in which Apple is refusing a court order to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in San Bernardino — in a Feb. 23 interview with the Financial Times. The Microsoft co-founder later said that he felt those quotes, which were widely characterized as putting him in the FBI’s camp, did not accurately represent his full opinion on the case.

Gates’ answers on Tuesday, much like those he gave in another interview with Bloomberg TV, also didn’t do much to clear up where the tech pioneer personally stands on the contentious case. Asked what he would do if he were in Apple’s position, Gates said the company could offer a Plan B.

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“Maybe they could propose an overall plan for striking the balance between government being able to know things in some cases and having safeguards to make sure those powers are confined to appropriate cases,” Gates said. “There is no avoiding this debate and they could contribute to how the balance should be struck.”

Gates is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of Microsoft, which along with nearly every other major tech company has filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting Apple in the California case.

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Bill Gates: Apple could propose a balance in FBI dispute