Widespread encryption built into smartphones was “making more and more of the room that we are charged to investigate dark”, Comey said at a cybersecurity symposium.
The FBI sought a court order to force Apple to help it hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, a demand Apple said would dramatically weaken security of its products.
The FBI ultimately got into the phone with the help of a third party, concluding the court case but leaving unresolved the underpinning legal questions.
Comey made clear on Tuesday that he expected dialogue to continue.
“The conversation we’ve been trying to have about this has dipped below public consciousness now, and that’s fine,” Comey said at a symposium organised by Symantec, a technology company. “Because what we want to do is collect information this year so that next year we can have an adult conversation in this country.”