DOJ watchdog: FBI could have tried harder to hack iPhone

(Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo, File)

(Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo, File)

The Justice Department’s watchdog says FBI officials did not try as hard as possible to unlock an iPhone as part of a terrorism investigation, even as then-Director James Comey told Congress the bureau had expended its options and needed Apple’s help.

The department’s inspector general said in a Tuesday report it found no evidence the FBI was able to access the data on the phone belonging to one of the gunmen in a 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

But the report says communication failures among FBI officials delayed the search for a solution. The Justice Department at the same time was fighting Apple in court to try to force it to hack the phone. The FBI later paid a third party to open the device.

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