James Comey is the director of the FBI.Brookings Institute
Apple’s encryption battle
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View all…FBI Director James Comey suggested to a conference in London that his agency paid more than $1.3 million to gray-hat hackers who were able to unlock the iPhone 5C that was used by Syed Farook Rizwan, the dead terrorist who masterminded the attack in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015.
According to Reuters, Comey was asked Thursday how much the FBI paid for the technique that eventually allowed investigators to access the locked phone.
“A lot. More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months for sure,” Comey said. “But it was, in my view, worth it.”
Reuters noted that as of January 2015, Comey makes $183,300 per year—and assuming no raises or bonuses, he will make $1.34 million during that remaining tenure.
The Department of Justice and Apple were set to square off in federal court in California last month before the hearing was called off after the government announced that it had been shown a new technique to unlock the phone.
The DOJ had received a court order that would have compelled Apple to create an entirely new customized iOS that would have allowed investigators to brute force the passcode on the device.
Apple, for its part, forcefully argued that this was a significant government overreach.
It is still unclear as to what useful information, if any, was located on the phone. Last week, an anonymous source told CBS News that “nothing so far of significance” was located on the phone.
However, as of Wednesday evening, other anonymous law enforcement officials told CNN that the phone “has helped investigators address lingering concern that the two may have [had] help, perhaps from friends and family,” adding that the phone “didn’t contain evidence of contacts with other ISIS supporters or the use of encrypted communications during the period the FBI was concerned about.”
FBI Spokesman Christopher Allen did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.