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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bill Gates: “Not that hard to shut Internet down”

By Tim
HEINUS – NEW YORK Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates recently appeared on CBS News speaking of the computing and Internet aspects of the Egyptian protests. He said “It’s not that hard to shut the Internet down if you have military power where you can tell people that’s what’s going to happen.” Gates mentioned in passing that he had personal experience with Internet shutdown attempts.

When asked to expand on his comments, Gates said Microsoft had come close several times to crashing the international network. He also admitted that the effort to shutdown the net was part of a bet between himself and fellow Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer. The winner would get the parking space closest to the Microsoft executive suite. “Go all the way back to our introduction of Active X controls,” Gates said. “If we had really pushed that, we could have crashed the whole thing, but the President, the CIA and Coca-Cola all asked to think of world stability and not do it.”

Gates also cited the security vulnerablities of Windows Internet Explorer, “All part of the plan,” he confirmed. Gates said he and Ballmer also liked to insert new bugs into each edition of Windows service packs. “It was great fun for awhile, watching everyone chase those around.” Eventually, Gates and Ballmer realized the only way to be really sure of bringing down the net was to have military forces at their disposal. So they inserted special code into all software products going to Russian military units. This would allow Gates and Ballmer to gain control over those forces. The plan went awry, however. “The National Security Agency found out. They ratted on us to the big boss and he was pretty ticked off,” Gates said. “When Conan is mad, that red hair of his really gets wild. Anyway, he told us to knock it off, that Putin was a good friend who had offered him a show on Russian TV after NBC kicked him off the Tonight Show. O’Brien demanded we give control of the Russian military back to the Russians. But it would have worked. Steve and I still laugh about it.”

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