President Obama Urges Americans Not to Be 'Absolutist' in FBI, Apple Debate

Obama is the first U.S. president to attend the SXSW festival in Austin.

— -- In the ongoing debate of privacy issues in the FBI vs. Apple encryption fight, President Obama is urging tech leaders not to take an "absolutist" stance in either side of the issue.

Speaking today at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, Obama declined to comment directly on the case, but instead took on the overarching concerns of privacy and encryption.

"There has to be some concession to the need to be able to get into that information somehow," Obama said, referring to the inability of investigators to access iPhones of those involved in criminal activity.

At the same time, Obama said, "I am way on the civil liberties side of this thing," and suggested if a major attack were to occur and this issue was at stake, then public opinion could sway in a direction that creates policy endangering people's privacy.

Obama stood against those on Apple's side who have said that creating any type of backdoor to the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters would make all users insecure.

“It’s fetishizing our phones above every other value and that can’t be the right answer,” Obama said. “I suspect the answer is going to come down to how do we create a system that the encryption is as strong as possible, the key is as secure as possible, it is accessible by the smallest number of people possible for a subset of issues that we agree are important.”