Bill Gates supports FBI on request to hack Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone for more information
Bill Gates supports FBI on request to hack Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone for more information

The row between Apple and the FBI has steered attention to Bill Gates on whether Apple should unlock an iPhone as part of the San Bernardino case.

Apple is fighting a court order demanding that it help the US government gain access to Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone, a man who killed 14 people in California last December. Apple argued that the move would set a dangerous precedent for “back doors” that threatens civil liberties.

Gates on the other hand denies that Apple's move would set a meaningful precedent.

Speaking with the Financial Times, Gates said: “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. Apple has access to the information, they are just refusing access.”

“It is no different than... 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,' ”Gates continued.

The Microsoft founder's stance has set him apart from other tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google which have all sided with Apple. 

A new study from the Pew Research Centre revealed that over half (51 percent) of respondents thought Apple should work with the FBI, proving that Gates is not alone.

In a company-wide email, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple said, “That tension should not be resolved by corporations that sell stuff for a living. It also should not be resolved by the FBI, which investigates for a living. It should be resolved by the American people deciding how we want to govern ourselves in a world we have never seen before.”

FBI director James Comey said in a blog post, “We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land. I hope thoughtful people will take the time to understand that. Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists.”

Gates has called for a public debate on the issue stating to the BBC, “I think we expect governments to find out everything they can about terrorism.”