News organizations ask judge to force FBI to reveal how much it paid to unlock San Bernadino Islamic terrorist’s iPhone

“Last year, the battle between Apple and the FBI dominated headlines. The case revolved around an iPhone, belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists,” Jessica Kelly reports for “The FBI eventually managed to gain access to the phone, without the help of Apple.”

“Three news organisations have asked a US judge to force the government to reveal the cost of the technology to unlock the iPhone,” Kelly reports. “The FBI has never named the security firm or group of hackers who helped unlock the phone.”

Read more in the full article here.

“The Associated Press, Vice Media and Gannett — the parent company of USA Today — have filed suit against the FBI with the U.S. District Court in Washington in hopes of pushing the organization to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests,” A.J. Dellinger reports for International Business Times. “In January, the FBI released more than 100 pages of documents regarding the hacked iPhone — done in response to legal pressure by the same news organizations — but the pages were heavily redacted and provided little context. While the document shows that multiple contractors bid on the job, it does not disclose who won the bid or how much the FBI paid for its service.”

Dellinger reports, “‘While it is undisputed that the vendor developed the iPhone access tool, the government has identified no rational reason why knowing the vendor’s identity is linked in any way to the substance of the tool, much less how such knowledge would reveal any information about the tool’s application,’ lawyers for the news organizations wrote in the filing. ‘Release of this information goes to the very heart of the Freedom of Information Act’s purpose, allowing the public to assess government activity – here, the decision to pay public funds to an outside entity in possession of a tool that can compromise the digital security of millions of Americans.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Reports have claimed it was Cellebrite and that it cost the FBI upwards of $1.34 million to hack into that iPhone, but neither has ever been confirmed. We’ll see how this FOIA request progresses.

FBI wants to get into locked Apple iPhone of Minnesota Islamic terrorist Dahir Adan – October 7, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook touts encryption at Senator Orrin Hatch’s Utah Tech Tour – October 3, 2016
Feckless FBI unable to unlock iPhone, even with a ‘fingerprint unlock warrant’ – May 12, 2016
FBI’s Comey says agency paid more than $1 million to access San Bernadino iPhone – April 21, 2016
Nothing significant found on San Bernardino’s terrorist’s iPhone – April 14, 2016
FBI director confirms hack only works on older iPhones that lack Apple’s Secure Enclave – April 7, 2016
Apple responds to FBI: ‘This case should have never been brought’ – March 29, 2016


      1. The FBI knew there was nothing of value on there. They screwed up in the beginning and made it impossible to access the info. They thought this would be a perfect test case to force Apple to write in a back door for them. Apple would have lost the trust of many millions of iPhone users had they provided this, and yet you think it’s about Apple could have chosen to save the US money, or chosen to protect their policy. Yeah, idiot, and yes, you are an idiot. All of these facts are there, easily known, and yet you make an entirely bogus point about it simply being Apple making a choice to save the US money or not. The point is that the FBI should not have made their demands in the first place.

        1. Thanks for a thoughtful answer, but this question does need to be debated in Congress (preferably after a Trump presidency (whenever that may be). The 4th, by itself does not forbid search and seizure, it forbids unreasonable search and seizure.

          The question at hand is really over the legal status of encryption.

  1. There was nothing on the phone. The terrorist destroyed all his phones but this one, which belonged to his employer. There is every reason to believe the San Bernardino terrorist, would think his employer could already tap into this phone and discover his dirty plots and therefore surmise its value as a tool, other than work. The fact they had multiple other phones, destroyed before the act, would tend to back this theory up.

    Just like $500 toilet seats, spending X amount of dollars, is never too much to unravel a locked box.

    Going the rout of forcing a back door from Apple, first, at an undetermined cost to the FBI or value to society, it gives us a decent picture, reguardless of what they spent on opening the phone, it was a lot less expensive for everyone. Economics – calculating CBA tends to ignore the greater good to businesses, society and democracy.

    To paraphrase Trump, “I feel, we saved a lot of money.”

  2. I have a contact at an FBI’s terror-related division who checks in every now and then given the nature of my business. During our last meeting, he and his coworker seemed rather cheesed at Apple regarding this particular episode. I will have to remember to explain the Cellbrite breach to him next time we meet and ask him his thoughts on the Other Side having the same (basically obsolete, BTW) tool available to them….

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