Apple’s ongoing battle with the FBI over access to a terrorist’s iPhone has taken a new twist, after former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said that Apple should break the device’s encryption for the authorities.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Gates said: "They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case."
However, a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests the FBI is demanding access to as many as 12 iPhones in a string of different criminal cases.
Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter explaining why allowing the FBI so–called ‘backdoor’ access to the iPhone belonging to the shooter in the San Bernardino terror attacks sets a dangerous precedent.
Cook said using software that Apple has not even developed to break through encryption would mark the start of a process whereby millions of iPhone owners could be at risk of having personal data accessed or stolen.
The FBI has dismissed Apple’s claims as ‘marketing’, with the fight becoming increasingly bitter in recent days.
Gates’ intervention is the first time someone with a background at a major tech company has come out in favour of the FBI.
Facebook, Twitter and Google have all backed Apple’s stance, although Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said he would be willing to go further to help government agencies prevent terrorist attacks.