FBI paid a ton of money to unlock San Bernardino iPhone


The next iPhone will have a huge battery.
The next iPhone will have a huge battery.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Getting into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c was no cheap feat for the FBI.

The Department of Justice withdrew its demands that Apple unlock the terrorist’s iPhone after the FBI was approached by a third-party that had a method to hack the device. It turns out Cellebrite charged the FBI through the nose to access the information it wanted, but FBI director James Comey says it was totally worth it.

When asked at the Aspen Security Forum in London today how much the FBI paid for the software to unlock the iPhone, Comey wouldn’t give an exact number, however it’s likely more than $1 million.

“A lot. More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months for sure,” said Comey, according to Reuters. “But it was, in my view, worth it.”

Director James Comey’s salary as of January 2015 was $183,300. He stands to make at least $1.34 million over the remainder of his post at the FBI, so his agency shelled out more than that amount to unlock the iPhone 5c.

While Director Comey may think spending $1.34 million to unlock an iPhone that contained no new evidence was a great deal, taxpayers are unlikely to be enthusiastic about the government’s spending. The FBI says it will be able to use the hack on other iPhone 5c devices running iOS 9, however it’ll need to fork over a lot more cash to hack newer iPhones.


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