Bill Gates Says Government Spying Isn’t Always Bad

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bill Gates has strong opinions when it comes to world poverty, but the tech titan-turned-philanthropist takes the middle ground on government spying.

Speaking with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos in an interview set to air on Tuesday, Gates said the U.S. needs to strike a balance between protecting citizens’ privacy and identifying national security threats.

“At the end of the day...we want to stop terrorism, we want to see if someone’s talking about nuclear weapons, or bioterrorism or various bad things,” Gates said. “So it’s not as though government surveillance is absolutely bad in all cases…I think it’s a valuable debate and I do think we can balance the two goals.”

Gates spoke to Fusion in conjunction with the release of the annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the letter, Gates pronounced that by 2035, no nation would be as poor as the 35 poorest nations in the world today, as classified by the World Bank.

In the interview with Ramos, Gates commented on the broad domestic surveillance programs that were made public by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year. He said that people expect a level of privacy and security when communicating.

“Well certainly when I’m calling somebody on the phone, I don’t assume that’s being tapped into,” Gates said. “When I’m sending emails, I’m willing to talk about confidential matters, what salary, who we’re going to promote, what we’re going to do in things. So there is a basic sense that whoever is providing that technology has to make it’s secure.”

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