US media groups sue FBI to find out how it hacked shooter's iPhone

An Apple iPhone5.
An Apple iPhone5.ST FILE PHOTO

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Three US news media groups filed a lawsuit on Friday (Sept 16) to get the FBI to release details of how it hacked the iPhone of the man who with his wife shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino last year.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it wanted to access Syed Rizwan Farook's locked iPhone 5c to look into possible links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, but phonemaker Apple refused to help, citing privacy concerns.

Gannett - USA Today's parent company - the Associated Press and Vice Media are suing to obtain details of the mysterious hack that rekindled a national debate on communications encryption and privacy protection.

Farook and his wife went on their bloody rampage at a holiday office party in December in San Bernardino, California.

The federal law enforcement agency took Apple to court in February to compel them to help, but dropped the suit weeks later after hacking the phone with third-party help.

The FBI has yet to name the outside party or the cost involved.

"Understanding the amount that the FBI deemed appropriate to spend on the tool, as well as the identity and reputation of the vendor it did business with, is essential for the public to provide effective oversight of government," reads the lawsuit, filed in the US capital Washington.