Bill Gates Has No Admiration for Edward Snowden

Mar 14, 2014 05:07 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Despite his fugitive status, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has a lot of people on his team.

But Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft and a technology giant of our time, isn't one of them. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Gates quickly denied the notion that Snowden is a hero for leaking documents that revealed widespread government surveillance of everyday citizens.

"I think he broke the law, so I certainly wouldn't characterize him as a hero," Gates told Rolling Stone.

While a New York Times editorial published on New Year's Day called for clemency for Snowden, Gates doesn't see him as a whistleblower or protector of freedom.

"If he wanted to raise the issues and stay in the country and engage in civil disobedience or something of that kind, or if he had been careful in terms of what he had released, then it would fit more of the model of 'OK, I'm really trying to improve things.' You won't find much admiration from me," he told Rolling Stone.

Gates was vague when questioned about government surveillance.

"The government has such ability to do these things," he told the magazine. "There has to be a debate. But the specific techniques they use become unavailable if they're discussed in detail. So the debate needs to be about the general notion of under what circumstances should they be allowed to do things."

Gates relinquished daily duties at Microsoft in 2006 but has recently returned for a more influential role, The Washington Post reported.

In a revealing comment, he denoted what three of the biggest names in technology bring to the table.

"I start with architecture, and Mark [Zuckerberg] starts with products, and Steve Jobs started with aesthetics," Gates told Rolling Stone.

Microsoft, Facebook and Apple approach issues differently, something Gates managed to sum up in one sentence.

"It's a succinct explanation of how each company tends to approach its problems, and a good demonstration of just how much clout a founder's personality can have on a company," the Post described. 

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