Three news organizations have jointly filed a complaint against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking information related to the FBI’s purchase of a tool they used to hack the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The FBI has publicly acknowledged that they bought the means to access the phone from a third party, and that they paid a steep price for it.
The Associated Press, Vice, and Gannett (owner of USA Today) filed the lawsuit on Friday, after all three failed in attempts to access the data through FOIA requests. According to the complaint, which was shared by Vice News, each organization separately filed FOIA requests earlier this year, each request was denied, and all three appealed and lost. In each situation, the FBI said that relevant documents did exist, but that they were exempt from being turned over because they are related to law enforcement proceedings.
After being denied on appeal, they joined together to file the complaint, which quotes FBI Director James Comey as going on record about how much tax payer money was spent on the technology. “A lot … More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure,” Comey said. The complaint refers to reports that estimated the cost as being between $1 million and $1.3 million.
The lawsuit argues that the information is relevant and should be released because it would “ensure transparency about the expenditure of public funds” and “is essential for the public to provide effective oversight of government functions and help guard against potential improprieties.”
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