Obama: Sony Should Have Called Me and I Would Have Talked to the Theaters

‘I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was’

"I was pretty sympathetic to the fact that they [Sony] have got business considerations they've got to make. And, you know, had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what that story was. But what I was laying out was a principle that I think this country has to abide by. We believe in free speech.

We believe in the right of artistic expression and satire and things that powers that be might not like. And if we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt, through cyber, you know, a company's distribution chain or its products and, as a consequence, we start censoring ourselves, that's a problem. And it's a problem not just for the entertainment industry, it's a problem for the news industry.

CNN has done critical stories about North Korea. What happens if, in fact, there is a breach in CNN's, you know, cyberspace? Are we going to suddenly say, 'Well, we'd better not report on North Korea?' So, the key here is not to suggest that Sony was a bad actor. It's making a broader point that all of us have to adapt to the possibility of cyber attacks. We have to do a lot more to guard against them.

My administration has taken a lot of strides in that direction, but we need Congress to pass a cyber security law. We've got to work with the private sector and the private sector has to work together to harden their sites. But in the meantime, when there's a breach, we have to go after the wrongdoer. We can't start changing how we operate."

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