Reuters estimates that the Federal Bureau of Investigation paid about $1.3 million to an unidentified third party to unlock the iPhone used by Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California on Dec. 2.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said on Thursday the agency paid more to get into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters than he will make in the remaining seven years and four months he has in his job.
According to figures from the FBI and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Comey’s annual salary as of January 2015 was $183,300. Without a raise or bonus, Comey will make $1.34 million over the remainder of his job.
The method used to unlock the iPhone will supposedly only work on a “narrow slice of phones,” Comey said at a conference earlier this month.
The FBI had brought a case against Apple pressuring them to provide technical assistance in breaking into Farook’s phone. Apple CEO Time Cook declined to help the FBI, calling their request “chilling.” The FBI has since dropped it’s case against Apple.
The FBI’s fight with Apple is a part of a wider debate on privacy rights. The NSA already conducts mass surveillance of US citizens and we know that terrorist attacks are used as a convenient excuse for the expansion of the government’s power. We can expect continued efforts by the government to further intrude on our right to privacy; as Apple has continuously received numerous requests to unlock iPhones and the federal government continues to use social media websites to conduct electronic surveillance without the need for court approval.