Gates Calls for Greater Investment in Energy, Health Innovation
NEWS ANALYSIS: Microsoft founder Bill Gates focused on energy as a critically important area where governments should invest in innovation, while also defending Microsoft's stance on data privacy.WASHINGTON—Bill Gates came to the nation's capital to prod elected officials into doing more to support technological innovation, but he also took the opportunity to chide the government on its demands for access to private customer data during an appearance April 18 at a Reuters Newsmakers event at the St. Regis hotel here. Gates chose energy production as the main focus of his call for innovation, saying that the United States should spearhead ways to produce energy that don't contribute to global warming. He also discussed the inroads that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is making in the fight against diseases such as malaria and polio. But Gates was also moved to comment on two prominent data legal battles Microsoft is fighting. One is Microsoft's long-running opposition to providing access to email messages located on a server in Europe. The other is Microsoft's suit against the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the gag orders that come with the government's secret demands for information. Gates said that in the vast majority of cases, there's no reason for secrecy.
Gates said that while there are probably cases where the government "should be able to go in covertly" and gather information, such cases should be extraordinary. The way it is now, he said, the gag order is automatically part of the data request, adding that Microsoft wants to be able to tell its customers when the government requests information about them.