Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Bill Gates sides with FBI on demand for Apple backdoor to shooter's iPhone

The US government has gained a rare tech ally in its fight to compel Apple to help it hack into an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre.

Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates told the Financial Times that tech companies should be forced to aid law enforcement officials with terrorism investigations.

"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," Gates said in a report published Monday evening.

"It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records. Let's say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said 'don't make me cut this ribbon because you'll make me cut it many times.'"
Bill Gates sides with FBI on demand for Apple backdoor to shooter's iPhone
Gates' comments go against the prevailing current on the issue in Silicon Valley, where other tech giants have lent their support to Apple in its resistance to FBI demands for a backdoor for an iPhone tied to the December shootings that killed 14 and injured 22 in San Bernardino, California. The FBI hopes the phone's contents will reveal more about the terrorists' activities leading up to the massacre. But Apple has resisted, contending that such a breach of security could not be contained and would expose countless iPhone users to unreasonable risks.

The Cupertino, California, tech giant is also grappling with the Department of Justice over attempts to extract data from locked iPhones in about a dozen other cases, according to the Wall Street Journal. Details of those cases have not been disclosed publicly, but sources told the Journal that the cases do not involve terrorism.

Gates' words come amid a mounting war of words between tech companies and policy makers, who contend that terrorist groups are benefiting from encryption, the technology that jumbles communications and files so that only the intended recipient can read them. Tech companies have become increasingly diligent about including encryption in products and services in the wake of revelations about US government surveillance programs from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sundar Pichai of Google and Jack Dorsey of Twitter have publicly supported Apple CEO Tim Cook for refusing to breaking into the phone. The American Civil Liberties Union and the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation have also supported Cook's position.

While siding with the government's position, Gates said there should be rules created for when information can be accessed.

"I hope that we have that debate so that the safeguards are built and so people do not opt -- and this will be country by country -- [to say] it is better that the government does not have access to any information," he said.

Representatives for Apple and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Source: www.cnet.com
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