The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation insisted on Thursday that it will not set a precedent if Apple assists authorities with breaking into an iPhone 5C, and that the software would not be reusable.

"What the experts have told me is that the combination ... of a 5C and this particular operating system is sufficiently unusual that it's unlikely to be a trailblazer, because of technology being the limiting principle," FBI Director James Comey told a panel of the House Intelligence Committee.

"The code the judge has directed Apple to write works only on this one phone, so the idea of this getting out in the wild ... is not a real thing," Comey added. "The code will be at Apple, which I think has done a pretty darn good job of protecting its code. Before 2014 they were able to unlock any phone, and I don't remember any code getting out that let that ability loose upon the land.

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"I think conversation and negotiation is the key to resolving this. This is the hardest question I've seen in government, and it's going to require negotiation and conversation," Comey said.