FBI releases heavily redacted information about cracking iPhone

The FBI has released 100 pages of documents related to its efforts to break into a locked iPhone owned by terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, but most of the useful information has been redacted, The Associated Press reports. The release excludes the name of the group paid to unlock the phone, the cost of the services rendered, and the method used to unlock the phone, essentially shedding very little light on how the government gained access to the device. The documents do reveal that the FBI signed a nondisclosure agreement with the vendor who finally unlocked the phone, and show that at least three other companies expressed interest in the job but couldn’t deliver a solution fast enough.
The FBI’s contracting documents show that the agency didn’t put the job out to bid for fear that “widely disclosing the bureau’s needs could harm national security.” The AP and other news agencies sued for the documents after the FBI argued against their release, saying the information becoming public could compromise ongoing investigations. The news agencies countered that the public had a right to know whether the vendor “has adequate security measures, is a proper recipient of government funds and will act only in the public interest” given that the FBI initially promised that their efforts to access the iPhone were a one-time thing with no plans to use the technology to create a “master key” to access other devices. In the end, the FBI found no useful information on the hacked phone despite a very public battle with Apple about who should unlock the device.

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