Apple has said that they will refuse the U.S. government’s requests for the company to create a “back door” to encrypted devices because it would betray their customers’ expectation of privacy. Since then, technology leaders from across the globe have weighed in on the issue. Some have backed Apple’s decision, while some think there isn’t an easy answer.
Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and perhaps the loudest voice in the tech world, told Bloomberg News that it’s a nuanced issue to tackle.
“I do believe that with the right safeguards, there are cases where the government, on our behalf, like stopping terrorism, which could get worse in the future, that that is valuable,” Gates told Bloomberg. “But striking that balance — clearly the government has taken information historically and used it in ways we didn’t expect, going all the way back to say the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. I’m hoping now we can have the discussion. I do believe there are sets of safeguards where the government shouldn’t have to be completely blind.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also gave his two cents on the matter, throwing his support behind Apple. In a speech at the Mobile World Congress given Monday, Zuckerberg addressed the issue. “We’re sympathetic with Apple,” said Zuckerberg. “We believe encryption is a good thing that people will want.”
This was not Zuckerberg’s first time has defended the matter, saying in a statement that if Apple were to comply with the FBI’s demands, it would create a “chilling precedent.” and prevent companies from creating secure products.
The CEO of Facebook’s rival company, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, also tweeted (naturally) his thoughts on the Apple-FBI conflict on Thursday.
“We stand with @timcook and Apple (and thank him for his leadership)!”
Also tweeting his support of Apple was Google CEO Sundar Pichai. In a series of tweets, Pichai explained that users’ privacy would be compromised if companies were forced to enable hacking, or “back doors” to their products for easy access by the government.
“We know that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face significant challenges in protecting the public against crime and terrorism,” Pichai tweeted. “We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders. But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices & data. Could be a troubling precedent. Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue.”
The tech industry’s support for Apple seems to be almost unanimous, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t prominent voices speaking out for the FBI. U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has chimed in on the matter, encouraging people to boycott Apple until they back the FBI.