"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.
"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."
Obama's comments come after an aggressive motion by government prosecutors seeking to compel Apple to build a backdoor into the iPhone used by a San Bernardino shooter.
Apple responded to the motion saying, "it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American".