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FBI Releases Documents On How It Hacked iPhone Connected To San Bernardino Shooting

FBI Releases Documents On How It Hacked iPhone Connected To San Bernardino Shooting

In March of last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that it has successfully hacked the iPhone used by one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino shooting in 2015. The agency, however, never really disclosed completely how exactly it was able to unlock the smartphone unit under investigation. 

Needless to say, a lot of people (including Apple, of course) wanted to know just how the FBI did it. In September of last year, a trio of news organizations (the Associated Press, Vice, and Gannett) proceeded to file a case against the agency in an effort to have the hacking method made known to the public. As a result of the lawsuit, the FBI eventually released a hundred pages of documents last Friday (the documents were labeled “secret” before being released). But as reported by the Associated Press, the released documents are heavily censored. The documents actually do not offer any solid information on which third party the FBI commissioned to hack into the iPhone unit. Also, the documents do not reveal how much the agency paid that third party to do the deed.

Last year, the much publicized feud between Apple and the FBI centered around this particular iPhone 5C unit. To recap, the United States government had wanted Apple to provide them assistance in unlocking the device, specifically by producing new software that would bypass the smartphone’s security features and make the information saved in the handset available for retrieval. Apple had said no thanks, claiming that the act of bypassing the encryption codes would run the risk of having all other iPhone devices (and their owners) vulnerable to hackers

So the Department of Justice was left with no choice but to get somebody else to do it. In March of last year, the government announced that it had acquired the services of a certain third party in order to break into the iPhone. The agency however offered no additional information as to the identity of that third party.

The FBI had refused to provide the information to news organizations, citing the Freedom of Information Act. It was around this time that the Associated Press, Vice, and Gannett filed their lawsuit. In the case they filed, the news organizations argued that the public has the right to know how the US government spent taxpayer money in order to hack into the iPhone unit being investigated. They also argued that the fact that a third party was able to unlock an iPhone means that other iPhone devices could similarly be compromised by other third parties.