The FBI paid less than $1 million for its iPhone unlocking venture

The FBI paid under $1 million for the technique used to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters - a figure smaller than the $1.3 million the agency's chief initially indicated the hack cost, reports Reuters, quoting unnamedU.S. government sources.

The article adds that the FBI will be able to use the technique to unlock other iPhone 5C models running iOS 9 - the specifications of the shooter's phone - without additional payment to the contractor who provided it. The Justice Department unlocked the iPhone in March with the help of the contractor after Apple Inc refused to bypass the device's encryption features on grounds it could undermine security for all users.

In related news, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted unanimously to pass the Email Privacy Act, a bill that has the backing of a coalition of major technology businesses including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. To become law the bill must still pass through the Senate, and then be signed by the President, TechCrunch noted.

Also, the Supreme Court on Thursday approved a rule change that would let U.S. judges issue search warrants for access to computers located in any jurisdiction despite opposition from civil liberties groups who say it will greatly expand the FBI's hacking authority. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts transmitted the rules to Congress, which will have until Dec. 1 to reject or modify the changes to the federal rules of criminal procedure. If Congress does not act, the rules would take effect automatically.