Tech billionaire Bill Gates seems more present in the media these days than he has been for a long time, but he’s not talking about what he knows best: how to make a lot of money in tech, stifle competition, and get away with it.
Gates is inserting himself in the debate around a medical crisis, the coronavirus epidemic, and if Wired’s tone is to be believed, he is to be taken as an “authoritative source” on medical issues, as a self-thought epidemiologist of sorts.
This belief may stem from the fact Gates, as the report suggests, announced an upcoming pandemic in the past, and it happened “just as he predicted” – but he’s also presented as a victim of conspiracy theories and misinformation.
On that note, Gates was asked how he explains the fact that “so many people” are receptive to what is referred to as “this anti-science” worldview. But in his response, more than anything, Gates takes a swipe at end-to-end encryption – and this is not the first time he’s done that. It appears as if his dislike of privacy and security enjoyed by users online is as strong, if not stronger, than his self-confessed crusade against “everything that anti-science is fighting. I’m involved with climate change, GMOs, and vaccines.”
But Gates quickly shifts gears from “anti-science” to calling on the government to kill off encryption in private conversations (as supposedly the reason his critics are able to communicate their thoughts and reactions to his and similar activities). And once again, Gates says this crackdown on “misinformation” is essential for the health and security of the web in the same breath as “fraud or child pornography” in an obvious attempt to vilify encryption as such.
One of the guilty apps mentioned in this context is the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, while Facebook is owned by his friend, Mark Zuckerberg.
Asked whether he has spoken “about this” (i.e., shuttering encryption on the messenger app) with Zuckerberg, Gates acknowledges that he has made the war on encryption his talking point now, and that Zuckerberg emailed him after he said pretty much the same things recently.
“He and I do disagree on the trade-offs involved there,” Gates said cryptically (probably referring to the trade-offs between security and privacy, and stomping out any (mis) information he dislikes, by any means.)