Democrat Senator Reveals What the FBI Paid for San Bernardino iPhone Hack
Among all the election and fake news drama, 2016 also brought us a battle between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Apple. Following the San Bernardino shootings, FBI tried to yet again use the buzzword of "national security" to make everyone believe that tech companies have to create a backdoor in their devices. However, after a legal battle and consumer reaction, the agency hired a third-party company to break into the device. But despite releasing over 100 pages of documents following a Freedom of Information Act request, the bureau didn't share exactly how much it paid to get the iPhone broken.
Director James Comey had previously hinted that the government paid more than what he would earn in his remaining seven years on the job to break into the iPhone. The amount was estimated to be over $1.3 million. The bureau considers both the sum it paid and the vendor it hired as classified information and is facing lawsuits by several news organizations to reveal the details.
Now, a Senator may have inadvertently disclosed that classified information.
Senior ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says FBI paid $900,000 to break into the iPhone 5c
"Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees the FBI, said publicly this week that the government paid $900,000 to break into the locked iPhone of a gunman in the San Bernardino, California, shootings," AP reported.
"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," Feinstein said. "And as I subsequently learned of some of the reason for it, there were good reasons to get into that device."
While the Senator says the amount was worth it, the FBI had admitted that it couldn't find anything significant on the device. Several critics had also accused the agency of using this case to push for encryption-free devices, as the shooters had already destroyed data on their computers and phones and it was expected that the agency won't find anything on this particular device as well.
The Senator cited the amount while questioning Director Comey at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing Wednesday. Feinstein was the most senior ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and was routinely briefed on the government's highly classified operations. It is unclear whether the Senator was hinting at a ballpark figure or if $900,000 is the exact sum that the bureau paid. Both the agency and Feinstein's spokesperson have declined to discuss the senator's remarks.