Bill Gates thinks Apple should unlock iPhones at the government’s request

“In an interview with Axios, Bill Gates warned Apple and other tech giants that they risk the kind of nightmarish government intervention that once plagued his Microsoft if they act arrogantly,” Mike Allen reports for Axios. “[Gates said], ‘The companies need to be careful that they’re not … advocating things that would prevent government from being able to, under appropriate review, perform the type of functions that we’ve come to count on.’ Asked if he sees instances of that now, Gates replied: ‘Oh, absolutely.'”

“Asked for an example, Gates pointed to the companies’ ‘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,'” Allen reports. “When I said he seemed to be referring to being able to unlock an iPhone, Gates replied: ‘There’s no question of ability; it’s the question of willingness.'”

Read more in the full article here.

Bill Gates, Microsoft Technology Advisor
Bill Gates, Microsoft Technology Advisor
MacDailyNews Take: Bill Gates. The big thinker who missed the Internet and whose company Steve Jobs passed by so quickly, Gates couldn’t even comprehend what was happening, much less instruct his pet ape how to respond.

The old thief Gates would like nothing better than for Apple to wreck their secure platform(s) with ill-considered back doors with keys for government spooks to misuse, abuse, and lose.

For the umpteenth time: Encryption is either on or off. This is a binary issue. There is no in-between. You either have encryption or you do not.

See also: Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that ‘back doors’ are a stupid idea, August 10, 2016.

There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 2015

This is not about this phone. This is about the future. And so I do see it as a precedent that should not be done in this country or in any country. This is about civil liberties and is about people’s abilities to protect themselves. If we take encryption away… the only people that would be affected are the good people, not the bad people. Apple doesn’t own encryption. Encryption is readily available in every country in the world, as a matter of fact, the U.S. government sponsors and funs encryption in many cases. And so, if we limit it in some way, the people that we’ll hurt are the good people, not the bad people; they will find it anyway. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, February 2016

FBI Director Wray calls inability to access electronic devices an ‘urgent public safety issue’ – January 9, 2018
Tim Cook’s refusal to create iPhone backdoor for FBI vindicated by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack on Windows PCs – May 15, 2017
The Microsoft Tax: Leaked NSA malware hijacks Windows PCs worldwide; Macintosh unaffected – May 13, 2017
Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that ‘back doors’ are a stupid idea – August 10, 2016
U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu says strong encryption without backdoors is a ‘national security priority’ – April 29, 2016
iPhone backdoors would pose a threat, French privacy chief warns – April 8, 2016
The U.S. government’s fight with Apple could backfire big time – March 14, 2016
Obama pushes for iPhone back door; Congressman Issa blasts Obama’s ‘fundamental lack of understanding’ – March 12, 2016
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch backs U.S. government overreach on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – March 11, 2016
Former CIA Director: FBI wants to dictate iPhone’s operating system – March 11, 2016
FBI warns it could demand Apple’s iPhone code and secret electronic signature – March 10, 2016
California Democrat Diane Feinstein backs U.S. government overreach over Apple – March 10, 2016
Snowden: U.S. government’s claim it can’t unlock San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’ – March 10, 2016
Apple could easily lock rights-trampling governments out of future iPhones – February 20, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashes out at Obama administration over encryption, bemoans White House lack of leadership – January 13, 2016
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” and “BD” for the heads up.]


      1. Thanks for you pity. I’m one of those poor schmucks stuck on Windoze.

        There is hope, though. While some of the software we use in my office will likely be stuck there for many more years to come, some of what I do is starting to transition to the cloud, and thus be accessible on iPads and such. I don’t like having my stuff on the cloud, nor do I like electronically signing documents (what the iPads are allowing, in part), but the technology moving that way is a positive sign!

        And thank goodness NONE of that has anything to do with Microsoft!

      2. Bill Gates has now officially joined the ranks of his illustrious CEO successor in terms of being a clueless old doofus & tech joke. Anyone who takes this joker seriously as a “visionary” instead of an opportunist and thief needs to have their head examined.

        1. In what way? Jobs licensed Xerox Parcs to get the ball rolling and innovated on a much better OS in the Mac (which others copied) plus innovated on a cheaper to manufacture mouse. Cel phones existed but not quite like the iPhone (and then others copied that). Tablets existed in a pretty much dead market until Jobs innovated with the iPad (and others copied that). Limited smart watches were out before the Apple Watch but Apple innovated on that space and now own it as others are trying to copy Apple.

          If you want to say Steve Jobs copied then you have to say all inventors and innovators are copiers. There’s a difference when you take ideas and then truly make them your own and build on them. Has nothing to do with “Apple fans” and everything to do with actual tech history.

        2. And just then you woke up!

          Not a question of steal outright code. More a reality to copy and duplicate code on your own and pass yourself off as an innovator.

          The biggest LIE in the HISTORY of technology …

        3. Bill Gates certainly took advantage of every situation – from the QDOS people, IBM and then Apple CEO John Sculley who foolishly allowed Windows to happen to Gate’s astonishment. Steve Jobs did too but the difference is Steve Jobs made something great and improved tremendously on the original idea whereas the visionless Gates merely made poor copies and rarely came up with anything great on his own. He said of the iPhone – “We should have done this.” Not in their DNA.

        4. Feather, you must be a dire newbie around here. We prove you wrong every single day at MDN.

          Apple fanatics = the single most discerning group of technology users in the world. If Apple screws up, we bitch at them loud, long and clear until they get it right.

          Try reading the comments around here for excellent examples. Mesmerized zombies = Microsoft fanatics. We pity them.

          Also note how rare it is to see an Apple fanatic at a pro-Microsoft website FUD-ing everyone with bile and hate such as yours’. Meanwhile, Microsoft fanatics who come to Apple fanatic sites to FUD and hate are a dime-a-dozen. So why is that? Feeling insecure?

        5. Hardly surprised at your reply but please please don’t pity me as I am not a Microsoft fan or Google fan. You are in denial and are of the typical Apple fanatic clan that think some how Apple is a special company that treats its customers well. I pity you.

  1. I wonder if the so called intelligence experts and law enforcement officials who say they need this ability realize that if they get it, that everyone of their agents, officers, themselves, soldiers, & civilians lives will be in danger. If they believe they can control this and be the only ones who can use it they are very unintelligent.

    1. The answer, Ken2, is that they don’t realize it. Why? Because there are people like Gates out there saying that Apple and other tech firms have the ability to safely provide law enforcement access to encrypted communications but lack the willingness to do so.

      There is no responsible person qualified in the area of cybersecurity saying anything close to that, of course, but that doesn’t matter when people like Gates claim that it is true. The cops—and, more importantly, the public and its elected officials—assume that he is still current on the state of the art in computer science.

      Bill Gates was never an innovator , but he was a master at understanding how to sell technology to the public. Somehow he has lost touch since his retirement. That’s sad, but what is much sadder is that he still feels competent to influence public opinion on matters he clearly does not understand.

      1. I, I just don’t know what to say. I almost completely agree with you.

        Gates was never a master salesman, that was Steve Jobs. Gates made one massive good decision. He leased DOS to IBM. So as the PC took off, he effectively had money pouring in from IBM. When we bought PCs back then, no one paid attention to the little Microsoft credit. All we saw was the big 3 letters… IBM. Gates never sold us a thing. We just adhered to the IBM religion. We had no idea we were creating a monster. Microsoft was the world’s greats industrial accident. Even after the PC was cloned, we kept calling the clones IBM PCs. no one mentioned Microsoft. Even in relation to Apple, and long after it was clear that Microsoft had owned IBM, it was a case of “Do you use Apple or IBM.” Or “Mac or IBM.”

        That one decision made Gates the richest man in the world and MS the most powerful company. It is why peopl think he’s some kind of computer genius.

        From that point on Microsoft never created anything. They bought all of their tech and what they couldn’t buy, they would duplicate and give away free with Windows to drive the competition out of business.

        Gates has also shown, in the past, a taste for anti-constitutional leanings and government authoritarianism. Not crazy stuff but just these hints during speeches that if the government had the power to just do what HE wants, in certain cases, the world would be much better off. Such as his comment here.

        That being said, at least he isn’t off on some island building a Bond villain fortress and preparing to end the world. He is spending his great wealth in ways to try and create a better world.

        1. “I, I just don’t know what to say. I almost completely agree with you.”

          Maybe it’s sign of the end times? 🙂

          Referencing your last paragraph, I’d say that Gates (if he is religious, and he may well be. I have no idea) is simply trying to buy his way into heaven… or, more likely, assuage a guilty conscience.

          Historically, it’s not an uncommon action for extremely wealthy people to do.

        2. I have to agree with you — TXu wrote a factual, not alternative, post for a change — that I too also agree with for the most part.

          If I may, like to add a couple elements to your fine post of computer history.

          MS and Apple worked together in the 1980s and both MS Word and Excel FIRST DEBUTED worldwide on the Mac platform.

          When Windows 2.0 was released in 1988, emulating the Mac OS, and subsequent upgrades relations between the companies went sour quickly and Apple sued MS over the Windows GUI.

          Detailed explanation and timeline here:

          After Apple lost the lawsuit in 1992, couple years later emboldened MS released Windows 95 to overwhelmingly positive six-column front page banner stories in USA TODAY, and other front page national publications.

          At the time my all-Mac office colleagues during my DC employment days had to endure two years of intense news stories, prodding jokes from the MS side of the company, proclaiming day after day Apple is doomed and will go out of business.

          Magically, prodigal son Steve returned two years later in 1997 in Pixar fashion to right the ship and release the iMac and later the iPod that ignited a growing trend to where we are now as Apple is the most successful company in history.

          So if history is any guide, Gates back then was incorporating IP software designs from Apple, much like Samsung today and throw in handset design, and he became the world’s richest man for a me too business.

          Bottom line: Gates and Samsung are the same in that remaking and outright copying IP design from Apple made BOTH companies rich and famous.

          No huge matter now, Apple users and the company balance sheet have the last laugh …

        3. I thought I was havin’ an acid flashback from Woodstock, man, when I read TxUser’s post…it was like, ya’ know, totally rational. One giant step for mankind and all that.

          I have summoned Calpurnia to bring my smelling salts, I may swoon.

        4. Exactly, dude. I too could not believe reading something uplifting and factual for a change. Hey, if you have extra salts leftover, may have to borrow some … 😉

        5. @ predrag: please don’t redirect the topic.

          The old timers here are reminiscing about their MS hate from the 1990’s. That is all. They haven’t done an objective comparison of personal computer platforms in decades, but the hate remains. What better place to spread the hate than mdn?

        6. For someone to go by “Realist” you are anything but real.

          Your post is a volume of fiction and misinterpretation. I’ll simply resist exposing your many falsehoods. Get a grip …

        7. Realist,

          I didn’t hate Microsoft or Bill Gates in the 90s, and I certainly don’t now. He is a marvelous philanthropist and a credit to humanity.

          He also happens to be dangerously wrong about computer security. Exactly because he is so well thought of, his musings on this issue are likely to carry a lot of weight with those who know no better.

          When Gates says that Apple (and others) are ABLE to allow law enforcement completely safe access but are UNWILLING to do so, he is flat wrong. There is simply no known way of (1) allowing access to encrypted data for peace officers bearing a Fourth Amendment-compliant court order while (2) denying access to everybody else.

          Like I keep saying, everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.

  2. Bill Gates can think what he wants, but Apple should keep the iPhones locked, especially when a government such as Apple’s home nation is a terrorist organization that have no concern for humanity.

    MDN is right, encryption is either on and off and thanks to Apple it will stay on.

    1. “Bill Gates can think what he wants, but Apple should keep the iPhones locked”

      Yes, keep them locked.

      “MDN is right, encryption is either on and off and thanks to Apple it will stay on.”

      Yes, agreed.
 “especially when a government such as Apple’s home nation is a terrorist organization that have no concern for humanity.”

      Explain to the rest of the class how your out of left field batsh@t INACCURATE and TIRED portrayal of the U.S. has anything to do Apple SECURITY on their phones, hmmm? … 🤔🙄

      1. I think it is fair to say that we can all see how, when US government agencies are left to their own devices (FBI, NSA, CIA, even justice dept), there are no reasonable limitations to what they can ask for (and get, if not prevented).

        That ‘terrorist’ business was a bit over the top, though…

        1. Terrorists torture Predrag. It’s as simple as that. Any nation that tortures hundreds of people from around 50 countries in this day and age is by default.

          Apple’s home nation has survived hundred of years without torture, it doesn’t need it, but while it has it, well…

          bottom line terrorists torture.

        2. I can certainly buy that argument.

          “That ‘terrorist’ business was a bit over the top, though…”

          A bit? I would say UNHINGED for far too long.

          RW does not know the difference between good liberating nations making huge sacrifices for world peace, and pure evil terrorist nations killing everyone around them because they are different.

          Never mentions ISIS, Al Queda, Iran, Syria, KGB and other brutal regimes, et al. — that burn innocent citizens alive or cut heads off with a sword while the victim is pleading for his life. He does not know the difference between a terrorist and a holy man. Pity …

  3. Our government has shown repeatedly that it does not respect our privacy rights and has abused it’s position.

    Civil liberties are not negotiable, were not granted by government and are irrevocable. All power of the state comes from the people and that includes the power to replace the existing order. The people have charged the government with protecting our civil liberties and they have fallen far short of the mark.

    Technically, if a back door is created it will be used and abused by nefarious actors and could allow 3rd parties a vector of attack that would compromise online security.

  4. Dear Mr. Gates,

    There is a difference in protecting peoples privacy and being “arrogant” as you put it. There is also a difference between being investigated for mafia type behaviour and forcing others to sell your product under duress and coercion and threats (which is what MS was investigated for) and “nightmarish government intervention for safeguarding privacy. If you don’t see the difference, you deserve to be ignored and your former firm deserves to be burnt down to the ground.

  5. god’s holy trousers,

    things are bad enough already with the capability of bad actors (from governments to greed heads to criminals) to hack and crack just about everything out there,

    at least apple presents about the best island of security left.

    just imagine if they allowed government back doors to be installed. somebody would be guaranteed to hack the govt files to get the key to that backdoor and then we are all in the soup.

    mdn is right security is binary. as was ben franklin.

    don’t give in.

  6. Bill Gates thinks Apple should unlock iPhones for the U.S. Government? I think Bill Gates should deposit a few billion of his dollars into my bank account! Both make equal amount of sense. (Well, maybe the second statement actually makes more sense than the first.)

    Within days (or less) of Apple putting into the iPhones a backdoor so Apple can open iPhones for the U.S. Government it will get out that the backdoor exists. Then, virtually every other country from China to Colombia to Benin will demand access to the same protocols and services or else Apple will be banned from selling iPhones in their country. Guarantee it.

    Will every U.S. Government employee and every state and local government employee be banned from having an iPhone since every country on the planet will be able to demand to see all the information on that employee’s iPhone?

    Further, the keys and code to do this WILL get out. You just have to look at the recent iOS code leak to see proof of that.

    Security is either as good as you can make it or it just does not exist. It is that simple. People who truly think otherwise are fools.

  7. I used to think Gates was a dick and he would piss me off every time I saw him being interviewed. But he has shown himself to be an exceptional human who has helped the world. He is one of the most generous philanthropists ever. In 2017 he gave $4.6 Billion to charity. He created the Gates Foundation Scholarships. He has made good progress on eradicating poverty, bring sanitary toilets to undeveloped countries, greatly reduced malaria and is on track to eradicate it. Eradicated Guinea worm disease. He has a past of being an infuriating MS jerk, but Gates has redeemed himself. OK… who’s gonna insult me first?

  8. I would do anything to stop a terrorist. Even more to convict future terrorists. Even more if i could wipe them off the face of the earth. But some numbskulls think that thats invasion of privacy. I have nothing to hide. So i have nothing to fear. But liberals protecting insane terrorists

    1. I consider myself very independent politically. I have both left and right-leaning views. However, it always surprises me to hear my conservative friends say they support this. Traditional conservatives want the government to have less power over our lives and less control over what we say and do. To me, it would seem that handing over our personal devices to the government would be the more liberal stance.

    2. tactileman,

      I am always dumbfounded when somebody claims that supporting personal liberty against government intervention is “liberal.” Until the recent presidential election, it was pretty clear to everybody that liberals supported more government and conservatives supported less government. Republicans supported local self-determination, free markets, and personal responsibility, while at least some Democrats supported a nanny state that could run our lives better than we could ourselves.

      Recent events have turned that on its head. Somebody like you can apparently claim to be conservative while blaming liberals for the Patriot Act notion that constitutional rights and due process are dispensable when it comes to terrorism.

      I don’t have anything to hide, either, and I hate terrorists, too. That doesn’t mean that I think the Government has any moral or legal right to poke through my private communications and records. I am not willing to destroy America and all it stands for because Big Brother tells me there is a bogeyman under my bed. And about that bogeyman…

      Since October 2001, roughly 6 Americans per year have been killed by foreign-born terrorists. You are more likely to die from lethal injection in a legal execution. Actuaries tell us that you are only about twice as likely to be killed by a terrorist as by an asteroid. You are over four times more likely to die from hyperthermia during a heat wave. Would you give up all your constitutional rights to stop global warming?

      In every one of the last sixteen years, between 10,500 and 17,500 people in America were killed by drunk drivers. Would you give up all your constitutional rights to stop that? I’m not even going to ask if you would give up your constitutional rights to prevent any of the 33,000 annual firearm-related deaths.

      Supporting rights personal privacy rights protected by the US Constitution is hardly a liberal issue.

      1. You might want to recheck the definition of the word liberal in your dictionary.

        The extreme nationalist right wing propaganda machine has long tried to paint on labels and push associations that don’t exist.

        You of all people here, TX User, should understand that there is a full spectrum of views on every issue and only unthinking buffoons align their views directly with one of the two corrupt polical parties.

        Liberals today more closely align with Theodore Roosevelt than any currently elected politician of any party. That is how twisted the big two have become.

        The current GOP agenda appears to have been designed for the 1880s, as it does nothing to keep the USA competitive for the future. Under the populist veneer of distracting tweets, Trump cheers when in 2018 the three richest people in the USA hoard more wealth than the total wealth of the poorest 160 million Americans. Think about that. The GOP gloats about statistical averages while making great pains to blame the poor and unfortunate, as they believe only the rich have earned the right to exist: look at their crass attempts to establish walls fences rules and restrictions against personal freedoms of any kind, all financed and propagandized by the richest few. Thanks Murdoch.

        A liberal believes all people are created equal. They believe that the rule of law continually needs to be refined and made just, giving a level playing field for all people to have equal opportunity. They can easily cite the many bad rules that today enable obscene disparity funneling more money into the hands of Bezos, Gates, and Buffet, while denying the USA the full potential of the people who today are denied good education, decent health care, and healthy environment. A liberal is not socialist or communist as the radical labor movements of the past century were. They are just sick of the gold holders making all the self serving rules.

        Conservatives haven’t changed their snobbish attitudes since Jesus upturned their money changing tables in the temple. They are happy to enrich the military industrial complex while inner cities rot. They are happy to retain as many gerrymandered unfair and unjust arrangements their corrupt forefathers inserted into law. Today there remain entrenched bias in law and tradition that are blatantly racist and sexist — and a conservative claims these cannot be rectified. Their goal is to enrich the corrupt few who have held power by privatizing gains and socializing losses, then funding info wars to cast blame on the downtrodden. A conservative never takes personal responsibility for any externalities and damage he inflicts on others. He controls the flame beneath the boiling frog and the American voter with his 30 second attention span now can’t remember when he was presented with unvarnished truth.

        A pox on both parties and their billionaire handlers.

        1. There used to be a Republican left-to-right spectrum based on social policy; but it eroded during the sixties because of stress fractures induced by the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. It all came to a head in the 1968 presidential election. The last liberal Republicans, like John Lindsay and Nelson Rockefeller, lost out to the scheming of a ratlike Richard Nixon and a young Roger Ailes. Democrats laboured from the weight of the albatross of Vietnam and the consequent Chicago police riots, and the loss of RFK and MLK, led to a weak Democratic candidate in liberal Hubert Humphrey.

          I was a toddler at the time. I learnt most of this from reading a book that just came out, Playing With Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics, by Lawrence O’Donnell. Some things in the book amazed me so much that I did my own fact-checking, going to the public library. I had to, because O’Donnell is a presumed liberal. His book goes a long way toward explaining why liberal became a dirty word. Long story short: it’s all political manipulation, all of it. We’re being used.

    3. The constitution has something to say about government agencies preempting crimes. There are procedures for suspects to be investigated with proper warrants. The problem is that in the internet age, government agencies are outgunned. Especially when the executive administration is incompetent and obviously corrupt. Want to petition the executive? Just buy a membership to Maralago, you’ll have complete access. how many foreign spies have totally wiretapped all trump properties and the orange fool’s samsung phones?

    4. OMFG is your post foolish, tactileman. Totalitarians love your kind. Even Botvinnik gets this issue.

      What you want is to move to China: Criminal Nation. It’s the same advice I offer to Bill Gates. What you want is what you get in China. So foolish.

  9. Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    — Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

  10. IV.
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    1. I never cared for Bill Gates. He had an annoying habit of pushing his glasses up with a finger, like the geek he was. But after a geek earns 85 billion dollars, doesn’t he realise he can afford a decent optometrist?

  11. Silly Mr. Gates.
    Move to China.

    So which nightmare does he prefer?

    1) Personal privacy and security at the expense of not catching some bad guys?


    2) NO personal privacy or security ever, including an exponential increase in identity theft, all for the sake of catching some bad guys?

    CLUE: Never let crooks and terrorists change anything-at-all in your life. YOU decide what’s in your best interest outside of the influence of the lunatics, thugs, bullies, totalitarian dictator dicks who are out to abuse others.

    Giving into crooks and terrorists = THEY WIN. And that’s bad.

    Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution

    Seriously Mr. Gates. What you want already exists in China: Criminal Nation. You’ll love it there.

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