The Economic Times - - Around The World - DUSTIN VOLZ & DAVID SHEPARDSON

Wash­ing­ton: Bill Gates said on Mon­day that no one was an “ab­so­lutist” on ei­ther side of the dig­i­tal pri­vacy de­bate, but the co-founder of Mi­crosoft said he sup­ports his com­pany’s law­suit against the US govern­ment seek­ing the free­dom to tell cus­tomers when fed­eral agen­cies have sought their data.

“There prob­a­bly are some cases where (the govern­ment) should be able to go in covertly and get in­for­ma­tion about a com­pany’s email,” Gates said at a Reuters News­maker event in Wash­ing­ton.

“But the po­si­tion Mi­crosoft is tak­ing in this suit is that it should be ex­tra­or­di­nary and it shouldn’t be a mat­ter of course that there is a gag or­der au­to­mat­i­cally put in,” he said.

The law­suit, filed last week in fed­eral court in Seat­tle, ar­gues that the govern­ment is vi­o­lat­ing the US Con­sti­tu­tion by pre­vent­ing Mi­crosoft from no­ti­fy­ing thou­sands of cus­tomers about govern­ment re­quests for their emails and other doc­u­ments, some­times in­def­i­nitely.

Gates said more col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween law en­force­ment and pri­vacy ad­vo­cates would help de­ter­mine which “leg­isla­tive frame­work ... strikes the per­fect bal­ance” on govern­ment ac­cess to pri­vate data. “I don’t think there are any ab­so­lutists who think the govern­ment should be able to get every­thing or the govern­ment should be able to get noth­ing,” Gates, 60, said.

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