Bill Gates has backtracked on earlier comments he made suggesting that he sided with the FBI in its request for Apple to break encryption on the iPhone of a mass shooter who killed 14 people in San Bernadino.
Apple has argued against complying with the order, saying that it amounts to weakening encryption with a so-called backdoor" and increasing the security risk for all.
"I was disappointed, because that doesn't state my view on this," said the Microsoft founder in an interview with Bloomberg. In an earlier interview with the FT, he apparenty "broke ranks" with the rest of Silicon Valley who have come out in support of Apple.
"I do believe that with the right safe guards there are cases where the government, on out behalf, like stopping terrorism which could get worse in the future, is valuable. But striking that balance, clearly the government's taken information historically and used it in ways that we didn't expect, all the way to say when the FBI was under J Edgar Hoover. So I'm hoping now we can have the discussion. I do believe there are sorts of safeguards where the government shouldn't have to be completely blind."
Pushed further on the matter Gates said:
"Well the courts are going to decide this. And I think that Apple said whatever the final court decision is they'll abide by. In the mean time that gives us this opportunity to get the discussions.. and these issues will be decided in congress.
"The Patriot Act and how that gets evolved, you don't want to just the minute after a terrorist event and swing that direction or do you want to completely swing away from government access when you get some abuse being revealed. You want to strike that balance. The US leads in setting an example"