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FBI does not have to reveal San Bernardino shooter iPhone hacking vendor

A federal judge has ruled that the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not have to reveal the vendor it hired nor the price paid to access data on the iPhone 5C used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Malik and his wife Tashfeen.

The Associated Press, USA Today and Vice Media in September 2016 filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit  to press the FBI to reveal the third-party vendorit contracted with that was able to access the iPhone. The FBI released the majority of the information required, but withheld the vendor name and price citing exemptions 1, 3, and 7(E) for the vendor and 4 for the price paid.

The FBI stated that that exposing the vendor's name could expose the company and the information it holds to cyberattack as it may be less capable than the FBI of protecting itself.

“The court therefore finds that the FBI has shown that the release of the vendor's identity could be reasonably expected to cause harm to national security interests by limiting the FBI's present and future ability to gain access to suspected terrorists' phones,” said Judge Tanya S. Chutkan.

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