President Obama warns tech sector to solve encryption issue before Congress does

As the encryption dispute between Apple and the FBI rages on, President Barack Obama has now warned that the tech community should move to figure out a way of better assisting law enforcement in its investigations. Speaking at SXSW in Austin, Texas, the president warned that the tech community's failure to find a suitable solution to helping the government access encrypted information in its investigations now could result in a much less-desirable solution from Congress in the future. From The Verge:

"What will happen is, if everybody goes to their respective corners, and the tech community says 'either we have strong perfect encryption or else it's Big Brother and an Orwellian world', what you'll find is that after something really bad happens, the politics of this will swing and it will become sloppy and rushed and it will go through Congress in ways that are dangerous and not thought through," the president said.

While President Obama shied away from specifically commenting on the ongoing encryption dispute between Apple and the FBI, he did argue for a more flexible view on encryption from the tech community:

"My conclusion so far is you cannot take an absolutist view own this," Obama said. "If your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should in fact create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years. And it's fetishizing our phones above every other value. That can't be the right answer. I suspect the answer is going to come down to how do we create a system where the encryption is as strong as possible, the key is as secure as possible, it is accessible by the smallest number of people possible, on a subset of issues we deem is important."

President Obama's comments come amidst rapidly rising tensions between the tech sector and the government over Apple's opposition to assisting the FBI in accessing an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Just this week, prosecutors in the case submitted a new court filing calling Apple's arguments "false" and "corrosive." Apple Legal chief Bruce Sewell quickly responded, calling the FBI filing an "effort to vilify Apple."

FBI vs. Apple