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Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates Strike Very Different Tones on Apple-FBI Fight

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the tenets of encryption and privacy yesterday in an event in Spain. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was much more opaque when asked to describe his opinion.

Two prominent tech figures — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — have finally weighed in on Apple’s current kerfuffle with the FBI. Zuckerberg and Facebook have sided with Apple and its CEO Tim Cook. Gates’ stance is much more opaque, and his attempts to strike a diplomatic tone are doing him few favors in the court of public opinion.

Zuckerberg stands with Apple, Google

In an appearance yesterday at the Mobile World Conference in Spain, Zuckerberg defended Apple’s defiance of a court order requiring it to create a backdoor access point for the U.S. government into an iPhone that had belonged to the one of the San Bernardino shooters. The Facebook CEO echoed his Apple counterpart’s insistence that the precedent set by subverting encryption would pose a major risk to privacy rights:

“[T]he FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.” — Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Zuckerberg’s endorsement comes on the heels of another by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who said last week that, even though he sympathizes with the challenges faced by intelligence agencies that fight terrorism, it’s unacceptable “[to require] companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data.” 

In an industry always within eyesight of privacy watchdogs, it was important for Facebook and Google to issue robust statements of support for Apple and deflect any potential notion that they’re nothing but government lapdogs. The companies needed to speak up, and they did. 


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