Just how much did the tool to break into the San Bernardino gunman’s locked iPhone 5c cost US taxpayers? According to senator Dianne Feinstein, the Federal Bureau of Investigation coughed up a cool $900,000 to purchase the tool from a third-party.
The Associated Press said Monday that the classified information was revealed during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, where senator Feinstein was questioning FBI director James Comey.
“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,” said Feinstein, D-Calif. “And as I subsequently learned of some of the reason for it, there were good reasons to get into that device.”
While the tool’s vendor wasn’t named, it’s been speculated that the FBI bought the software from Israeli digital forensics firm Cellebrite.
Comey called the sum “worth it” even though the FBI itself said it found “nothing of real significance” after gaining access to the device.
The FBI sought to protect the identity of the vendor it paid to do the work.
The organization considers the exact sum paid for the tool to be classified information, prompting The Associated Press and a few other news organizations to file a public records lawsuit seeking to force the government to publicly reveal both pieces of information.