How much to unlock an iPhone? Less than $1 million, reportedly

Call it a version of Your Tax Dollars At Work.

The FBI reportedly paid just under $1 million to get a third party to unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terrorist attack last fall, according a report from Bloomberg that cited “several U.S. government sources.” Depending on your perspective, that amount was either a steal of a deal or too much for what the FBI got for its efforts.

FBI Director James Comey, who keeps getting asked about how the bureau managed to access the iPhone’s data without help from Apple, said last week that the FBI spent more than he would earn during the seven years he has left on the job. That would have meant the FBI spent around $1.3 million, based on Comey’s $180,000 annual salary.

The FBI hasn’t disclosed who helped it crack open the security protocols of the iPhone 5c that belonged to one of the shooters. According to Bloomberg, the FBI is getting its money’s worth for its investment. The bureau reportedly has control of the method used to unlock the original iPhone and can use it to access more iPhone 5c phones that run on iOS 9 without having to cut any more checks to the contractor who helped it in the first place.

Photo: Apple logo on an Apple store. (Bay Area News Group archives)


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