Last year a former CIA technical analyst became one of the most popular advocates of online privacy after he leaked a barrage of highly classified documents. Criminal charges await him on his return to the U.S., for leaking documents that exposed U.S. National Security Agency’s wide reaching electronic spying programs. Most people might consider him a hero, but Bill Gates isn’t one of them. The Microsoft co-founder believes that methods used by Snowden to to unveil the NSA’s secrets don’t exactly solicit “admiration” from him.

Speaking with Rolling Stone, Gates said he believes Snowden broke the law, and that he “certainly wouldn’t characterize him as a hero.” He was asked about how he viewed Snowden, as a hero or a traitor. Gates says that had Snowden stayed in the country and been careful about what he released, then it would seem that he was trying to improve things.

There remains a burning question, on which one is expected to find varying views. Is it not better that now the world knows about these programs, because had Snowden not done what he did, no one knows for how long everyone would have remained in the dark. Gates says that there has to be a debate about these things, which the government clearly has the ability to do. He believes that the debate should be about “the general notion of under what circumstances should they be allowed to do things,” since its likely that specific techniques become unavailable if and when they’re discussed in detail.

Microsoft happens to be one of the major companies that’s taking a strong position against government spying. It also teamed up with Google to sue the government so that the companies are able to share more information about government data requests publicly.

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