Feinstein Reveals How Much FBI Paid to Hack iPhone

Agency shelled out $900K to see San Bernardino shooter's info
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 8, 2017 12:40 PM CDT
Shooter's iPhone Cost FBI $900K to Hack: Feinstein
This July 27, 2014, file photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook, as they passed through O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.   (Uncredited)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees the FBI, says the government paid $900,000 to break into the locked iPhone of a gunman in the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings. The FBI considers the figure classified, and also won't disclose the identity of the vendor it paid, information the AP other news organizations are suing the FBI to disclose. An FBI rep declined to comment. Feinstein cited the amount while questioning FBI Director James Comey at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. "I was so struck when San Bernardino happened and you made overtures to allow that device to be opened, and then the FBI had to spend $900,000 to hack it open," said Feinstein. "And as I subsequently learned of some of the reason for it, there were good reasons to get into that device."

Comey hinted at a ballpark range last year, and has called the sum "worth it." The government paid the money as it cut short a court fight with Apple, which was resisting a judge's order to help the Justice Department hack the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in December 2015. The work phone was found after the shooting. An unidentified third party came forward last March with a solution to open the device. The AP and other news organizations last year filed a public records lawsuit to learn how much the FBI paid and the identity of the vendor. The Justice Department has said in court filings that the information was properly classified. It argued that the information it withheld, if released, could be seized upon by "hostile entities" that could develop their own countermeasures and interfere with the FBI's intelligence gathering. (More San Bernardino shooting stories.)

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