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FBI sued by news organizations for information on San Bernardino iPhone hack

Three news organizations are jointly suing the FBI for information on how the agency broke into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.

Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett bringing suit

The Associated Press, Vice Media, and USA Today parent company Gannett said in a lawsuit filed today that the FBI has no right to keep the technique it used to crack the phone hidden from the public. The suit, brought under the Freedom of Information Act, asks a court to force the FBI to release contracting information on the hack purchased by the agency.

The FBI faced off with Apple in a major legal standoff earlier this year when the agency demanded that Apple assist in cracking an iPhone used by Farook. The company fought the order, and ultimately, the FBI walked away when it was able to independently open the phone through a hack bought from a third party.

The agency has so far declined to provide many of the details the news organizations are requesting, such as the vendor who sold the hack. In April, Director James Comey hinted that the agency paid more than $1 million for the technique, although an exact figure hasn't been pinned down.

In the complaint, the news organizations argue that the public has a right to know the source of the hack, and that law enforcement has a duty to be more transparent in its dealings. "The public interest in receiving this information is significant," the complaint reads.