iphone x

We live in an interesting time, especially around technology and security.  Apple, for example, has spent a lot of time trying to ensure that law enforcement can’t just access individuals’ data whenever they want to.  Law enforcement officials, however, think that they’re putting up unnecessary barriers.  Who is right in all of this?  Well, that’s hard to tell.  But Bill Gates has gone on the record and made a pretty bold statement.  Which is – he thinks tech giants in Silicon Valley aren’t worried enough about government regulation.  Meaning, the government could come in at any point and tell Silicon Valley that they need to change their ways.  But will they?

This is all coming out now due to the fact that many lawmakers are starting to pay more attention to tech’s increasing influence on our lives.  I read something recently that suggested that it’s actually tech giants running the world, as opposed to governments and other tangible structure.  Is that a fair assessment?  I mean, kind of.  In an interview, Bill Gates told Axios that he fears “Apple and other tech giants” because they’re in a precarious position at the moment.  He goes on to say that “the companies need to be careful that they’re not advocating things that would prevent the government from being able to, under appropriate review, perform the type of functions that we’ve come to count on”.

bill gates

Is he right? Or is he wrong?  When pressed to give an example, he does.  Gates suggests that these tech companies are able to make financial transactions anonymous and even invisible.  Which could lead to mass murdering criminals’ communications not being available to the government.  Those are Gates’ words, not mine.  This speaks to encryption big time, and Gates suggests that Apple, for example, isn’t willing to give them this kind of access.  I’m on the fence a bit with this one.  On one hand, Gates does have a point.  Albeit a pretty extreme point, but a point nonetheless.  On the other hand, should law enforcement not have to go through proper channels in the first place?

Please don’t think that I’m saying I’m pro-crime.  Becuase I’m not.  But I do think that we’re getting closer and closer to an extremely blurry line of privacy.  Gates supports the idea of having the ability for law enforcement agencies to get access to your phone.  From an encryption perspective.  But I’m not sure that I do.  He’s saying that the FBI, for example, asked Apple to unlock a phone and they refused.  Apple’s take on this is that they don’t have the ability to access data on a private iPhone because the data is encrypted.  It’s kind of a catch-22.  Apple can’t access it, and neither can law enforcement agencies.  So what’s the answer?

tim cook

I am not a security specialist so I don’t have an answer to this.  What I will say is that I think this is a delicate subject.  It’s easy for me to say what I think people should do. Heck, it’s even easy for Bill Gates to say what he thinks Apple should do.  Why? Neither one of us has any skin in this game.  But will this eventually become regulated?  Because that’s what Gates is hinting at.  If Apple doesn’t comply willingly, they will be forced to.  And maybe they will. Especially under the current Administration.  Anything is possible, and anything is fair game with him.  But I’m also not sure that it’s the answer.  Government regulation isn’t always the answer – even though I sometimes say it is.

While I don’t have a good answer for this one, I think that this is something that will continue to be relevant for many years to come.  Especially if Donald Trump gets angry that some “bad hombre” is getting away with some unsubstantiated crime.  I also find it interesting that Gates is going on the record with this kind of statement because there are so many who don’t agree with him.