FBI director hints agency paid more than $1.3m to unlock iPhone

Brittany A. Roston - Apr 21, 2016, 4:19 pm CDT
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FBI director hints agency paid more than $1.3m to unlock iPhone

Public information about the FBI’s method for unlocking the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone is slight, and so we’re forced to piece together what precious little information is available. Take, for example, FBI Director James Comey’s recent statement about how much the FBI had to pay to get the iPhone unlocked: more than he will make in the remainder of his time serving as the bureau’s director, which a little bit of math estimates as $1.3 million.

Comey made his statement in London recently at an event by the Aspen Institute. Unfortunately, he didn’t provide a solid figure for how much he paid — instead, Comey said the unlocking tool cost “more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure.” Comey makes $185,100 per year.

If you multiple that yearly sum by 7.33, you get $1,356,783 — not the figure the FBI paid, but an amount lower than the unlocking tool’s price tag, according to Comey. Despite the high figure, Comey said that “it was, in my view, worth it.”

The FBI, of course, hasn’t confirmed whether the math is correct, and so it is still speculation at this point, though much more narrow speculation than in the past. As well, the FBI has not disclosed to Apple or any public entity how exactly the tool works, though Apple has expressed a desire to have such information.

The tool was purchased by the FBI in the midst of its then-legal battle against Apple, which it tried to compel to help it unlock the shooter’s phone. Apple had fought against the request, and at one point scored a victorious ruling in which a judge said it couldn’t be compelled under the All Writs Act.

The FBI abruptly requested a stay for the trial, saying it had a possible solution to the problem that didn’t involve Apple. It confirmed that it had unlocked the phone a short while later, dropping the case against Apple. The tool has already been used to unlock other iPhones for law enforcement agencies, with the FBI making it clear it has no problem assisting others in bypassing the security lock.

Check out the timeline below for more information!

SOURCE: Washington Post


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