Bill Gates has said the row between Apple and the FBI over data access should spark a debate about government requests.
Apple has turned down the request from the FBI to unlock the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, the man who killed 14 people in December of last year.
Apple said the request was "dangerous" and "unprecedented" but Gates said that complying would not put a back door in all iPhones.
In an interview, Gates said: "This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. . "They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case."
In another interview with the BBC, Gates echoed his views that the case must come down to a debate about whether or not the government should be granted access to data that companies use to protect citizens.
He said: "Should governments be able to access information at all or should they be blind, that's essentially what we are talking about."
He said the requests to Apple were similar to those regularly made to phone companies and banks for information.
Microsoft has not formally commented on the row between Apple and the FBI, however the company did refer to a statement issued by the Reform Government Surveillance group of which it is a member.
The statement said: "Technology companies should not be required to build in backdoors to the technologies that keep their users' information secure."
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently said he is sympathetic to Apple's stance in the row.
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