In an interview with Axios today, Bill Gates insinuated big tech companies who deny government access to user information can find themselves being subjected to government regulation.
He explained that their “enthusiasm about making financial transactions anonymous and invisible, and their view that even a clear mass-murdering criminal’s communication should never be available to the government.” slaps a big bullseye on government radar.
His words seem to reference the issue between the FBI and Apple regarding the interference with access to an iPhone connected to the San Bernardino shooting in 2015. The FBI had to break into the phone without the help of Apple, who “believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy. Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk.”
America’s richest man publicly sided with the FBI when he said Apple’s privacy concern was unjustified as this was an isolated case for a single device, not an overhaul request for universal access. In a 2017 Reddit AMA, Gates suggested, “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.”