In an interview with Axios,Gates said that 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 people have come to count on.
Gates in a phone interview ahead of today's release of the annual letter of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: "The 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."
Gates pointed to the companies' "enthusiasm about making financial transactions anonymous and invisible, and their view that even a clear mass-murdering criminal's communication should never be available to the government."
When asked about Apple's resistance to unlocking its iPhone, Gates replied: "There's no question of ability; it's the question of willingness."
Gates said he was always worried about how much technology is "empowering a small group of people to cause damage... smaller groups might have access to ... nuclear weapons or, even worse, bioterror or cyber" weapons.
"[I]t's easier for kids to do genetics in a laboratory. That's a really good thing unless a few people decide to make human-transmissible smallpox and spread that into the world.
"A small group can have an impact — in the case of nuclear, on millions; and in the case of bio, on billions. That is scary to me."
In a first, this year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates is in the form of 10 Tough Questions, including how President Trump's policies are affecting the foundation's work:
"Although we disagree with this administration more than the others we’ve met with, we believe it's still important to work together whenever possible. We keep talking to them because if the US cuts back on its investments abroad, people in other countries will die, and Americans will be worse off."