News Companies Sue FBI Over San Bernardino iPhone Hack

We may finally find out how Syed Rizwan Farook's phone was unlocked

Illustration: Jack Dylan
Sep 16, 2016 at 3:45 PM ET

The Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett (parent company of USA Today) filed a joint lawsuit against the FBI on Friday to find out how the government agency managed to hack the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters that killed 14 people in San Bernardino in December.

Farook, along with his wife, was killed in a police shootout following the massacre, leaving a Facebook post in which he pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a starting point into an FBI investigation. When petitioning Apple to unlock Farook’s iPhone failed, the FBI went an alternate route, paying over $1 million to an undisclosed party in order to access it.

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Speculation has arisen into which hacker or security firm was involved, with signs pointing to an Israeli tech company, but Freedom Of Information Act requests as to the specifics behind the FBI’s backdoor approach were denied. Now, these news companies are looking to find who was behind the hack, as well as the methods by which the hefty price tag of a dead man’s private information was determined.

In a statement posted to Vice News, Jason Lepold wrote of the lasting implications of the FBI’s actions and the larger public interest at hand, stating, “The FBI never disclosed the security flaw to Apple or how it hacked the iPhone, meaning that iPhones may still be vulnerable.”