FOIA Advisor

FOIA: Suit seeks FBI records on hacking of terrorist's iPhone

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

USA TODAY, others sue FBI for info on phone hack of San Bernardino shooter

By Brad Heath, USA TODAY, Sept. 16, 2016

Three news organizations, including USA TODAY’s parent company, filed a lawsuit Friday seeking information about how the FBI was able to break into the locked iPhone of one of the gunmen in the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

The Justice Department spent more than a month this year in a legal battle with Apple over it could force the tech giant to help agents bypass a security feature on Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone. The dispute roiled the tech industry and prompted a fierce debate about the extent of the government’s power to pry into digital communications. It ended when the FBI said an “outside party” had cracked the phone without Apple’s help.

The news organizations’ lawsuit seeks information about the source of the security exploit agents used to unlock the phone, and how much the government paid for it. It was filed in federal court in Washington by USA TODAY’s parent company, Gannett, the Associated Press and Vice Media. The FBI refused to provide that information to the organizations under the Freedom of Information Act.

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