Bill Gates believes Apple should unlock iPhones at the government's request

Microsoft founder Bill Gates believes companies should allow the government to operate freely if they don't want to be overscrutinised.

"Tech companies have to be careful that they're not trying to think their view is more important than the government's view, or than the government being able to function in some key areas," he told Axios in an interview.

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When interviewer Mike Allen asked about Apple — which denied the FBI access to an iPhone involved in a shooting that took place in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015 — Gates replied that he doesn't share the belief "that even a clear mass-murdering criminal's communication should never be available to the government."

"There's no question of ability [for Apple to unlock an iPhone]," he said, "it's the question of willingness."

Gates is often pictured as an optimist, so Axios asked him if there is anything that scares him. Gates pointed to the double-edged nature of impactful technologies being available to small, independent, unregulated groups.

"There's always the question how much technology is empowering a small group of people to cause damage," he said. "Smaller groups might have access to nuclear weapons, or, even worse, bioterror or cyber [weapons]."

"A small group can have an impact — in the case of nuclear, on millions; and in the case of bio, on billions," he added. "That is scary to me."

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