Alongside being one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in recent history, the San Bernadino shooting has also served as the battleground for one of the most high-profile legal battles regarding the status of encryption and government access to electronic devices.
While Apple has remained steadfast in its opposition to demands by the FBI to allow the agency to access the data on the shooter's phone, and has been backed by many among the industry - including the CEOs of Facebook and its rival, Google - Microsoft's co-founder Bill Gates is not one of those people. He believes that Apple should concede to the federal agency's demands as this would represent only a specific case, and not a general legal precedent that could be used by the government to snoop on any device with impunity:
[The FBI is] not asking for some general thing, [it is] asking for a particular case....It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records. Let’s say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said ‘don’t make me cut this ribbon, because you’ll make me cut it many times.
He does, however, agree that such a privilege could be misused by government agencies and wishes for safeguards to be placed in order to prevent abuse.
Given that Gates parted ways with the company years ago and is now mostly involved with his charitable foundation, the statement is, of course, not representative of Microsoft's official position on the matter, as the company has been eerily neutral and mostly refrained from commenting, both on the issue at hand and Gates' recent comments.
UPDATE: Gates has updated his statement to say that he neither supports the FBI nor Apple in the debate.