Yesterday [March 11, 2016], President Barack Obama made an appearance at the SXSW Tech, Film, and Music Festival in Austin, Texas as he delivered the keynote interactive address that focused on the use of technology to help against the inefficiencies in education, job preparation, and community awareness, becoming the first sitting president to ever make such an appearance at the 30-year old festival.

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During 45-minute conversation with CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Tribune, Evan Smith, the president casually lounged in an armchair on stage as he discussed technology’s role in civil engagement, and the growing issue on citizens’ rights and whether many actions the government takes are lawful.

“All of us value our privacy,” President Obama said. “Before smartphones were invented and to this day, if there’s probable cause to think you abducted a child or you are engaging in a terrorist plot or you are guilty of a serious crime, law enforcement can appear at your doorstep.”

He remained focused on the benefits of the government accessing digital communication.


“The question we have to ask is if technologically it’s possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong there’s no key, there’s no door at all, then how we do apprehend the child pornographer?” He asked. “How do we disrupt a terrorist plot? What mechanisms do we have available to do even simple things like tax enforcement?” He added: “There has to be some concessions to get into that information.”

He also focused on the role technology plays with younger generations when it comes to sparking change and being more involved, detailing his meetup with entrepreneurs and filmmakers as they discussed techniques to fight back against ISIS/ISIL’s recruitment tactics of turning fighters against the West.

“We need you,” he said. “I want to underscore the fact that in 10 months, I won’t have this office. It’s been the great privilege of my life. It’s not like I stop caring about the things I care about right now. I expect you to step up and get involved.”

On Wednesday [March 16, 2016], First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver an address as she kicks of the famed festival’s music portion.