President Obama Weighs In On Apple-FBI Battle

This week at the South by Southwest festival, United States president Barack Obama made a statement about the ongoing Apple-FBI privacy battle. During his keynote speech at the festival, president Obama did not refer to the Apple-FBI case directly, but he cautioned festival goers against absolutist positions. His keynote also referred to the NSA leaks put into motion by Edward Snowden, and how this event had caused major political-distrust in citizens who were now hesitant to believe that the government is as impartial as it is supposed to be.

His statement included the following:”

And we agree on that because we realize that just like all of our other rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc, there are some constraints we impose in order to make sure we are safe secure and living in a civilized society.

Now, technology is evolving so rapidly that new questions are being asked, and I am of the view that there are very real reasons why we want to make sure that the government can not just willie nilly get into everybody's iPhones, or smartphones, that are full of very personal information and very personal data.”

President Obama also commented directly on encryption by calling for law enforcement access to encypted technologies:”

So now we have two values that we say are important. And the question we now have to ask technologically is if it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there is no key, there is no door at all. Then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot? What mechanisms do we have available to do even simple things like tax enforcement? If in fact you can't crack that all, if the government can't get in, then everybody is walking around with a Swiss Bank account in their pocket. There has to be some concession to the need to be able to get into that information somehow.

Now, what folks who are on the encryption side will argue is that any key whatsoever even if it starts off being directed at one device, could end up being used on every device.”

Consumer Affairs