Reuters: Bill Gates said on Monday that no one was an “absolutist” on either side of the digital privacy debate, but the co-founder of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said he supports his company’s lawsuit against the U.S. government seeking the freedom to tell customers when federal agencies have sought their data.
“There probably are some cases where (the government) should be able to go in covertly and get information about a company’s email,” Gates said at a Reuters Newsmaker event in Washington.
“But the position Microsoft is taking in this suit is that it should be extraordinary and it shouldn’t be a matter of course that there is a gag order automatically put in,” he said in an interview with Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler.
The lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Microsoft’s home town of Seattle, argues that the government is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing Microsoft from notifying thousands of customers about government requests for their emails and other documents, sometimes indefinitely.
The move comes as rival Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is locked in a showdown with the U.S. government over access to an iPhone belonging to one of the killers in the December shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Gates said more collaboration between law enforcement and privacy advocates would help determine which “legislative framework … strikes the perfect balance” on government access to private data.
“I don’t think there are any absolutists who think the government should be able to get everything or the government should be able to get nothing,” Gates, 60, said.