Microsoft Corporation co-founder Bill Gates is urging Apple Inc. to comply with Federal Bureau of Investigations demands, saying the security agency deserves the right to obtain full co-operation with regard to terrorism investigations.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Gates sensationally claimed that the FBI doesn’t want a backdoor into an iPhone belonging to an alleged shooter involved in the San Bernardino shootings on Dec.2; but rather wants a one-off access.
He also stated that people and courts should evaluate how much power should be accorded to the FBI, and dismissed Apple’s CEO Tim Cook notion that allowing the FBI access to the iPhone will set a “bad 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,” said Gates in the interview.
Gates’ stand makes him a lone figure as other prominent Silicon Valley figures such as WhatsApp’s Jan Koum and Alphabet Inc.’s Google CEO Sundar Pichai, as well as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have opted to back Apple.
Facebook Inc.’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg also threw his weight behind Apple in remarks during the ongoing Mobile World Congress assembly in Barcelona.
Gates’ Stance Different from Microsoft’s
Moreover, Microsoft itself has also supported Apple in its legal battle against the FBI. This stance was confirmed by industry lobby, The Reform Government Surveillance group, which draws membership from tech firms such as Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, among others.
The lobby issued a statement Thursday saying: “technology companies shouldn’t be required to build in backdoors to the technologies that keep their users’ information secure”.
The lobby group’s statement was acknowledged in a tweet by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella and chief legal officer Brad Smith.
The FBI wants Apple to develop software that will make it possible for its agents to access an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farouk, who along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, masterminded the California shootings that saw 14 people lose their lives, while 22 others were seriously maimed.
The phone has a passcode that if incorrectly entered into after 10 tries, automatically erases data that is stored within.
The security agency wants to investigate whether Mr. Farouk had any ties with any known terrorist outfits.
The FBI director James Comey, in a Sunday blog post, argued that the security agency isn’t interested in setting any legal precedent, but rather wants to ensure justice to victims of the San Bernardino shootings.
It has also emerged that the FBI, through the Justice Department, has filed a motion seeking to compel Apple to assist it to hack into 12 other iPhones in order to build its cases in other unrelated investigations.
The new revelation was first reported by Wall Street Journal, and is undoubtedly likely to rally more support for Apple.