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

SEE ALSO:
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.]

62 Comments

      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.

            1. 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 …

            2. 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.

          2. 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?

            1. 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:

          https://www.google.com/amp/www.zdnet.com/google-amp/article/30-years-before-samsung-when-apple-sued-microsoft/

          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 …

          1. 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.

            1. 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 … 😉

            2. @ 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?

            3. 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 …

            4. 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.

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