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FBI is trying to avoid saying how the San Bernardino iPhone was hacked

According to The Wall Street Journal, the feds will argue that they don't know how the hack actually works.

James Martin/CNET

The FBI spent over $1.3 million to unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook -- and reportedly found nothing important inside. Now Apple wants to find out how the phone got hacked, but the FBI doesn't plan to share.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the FBI will argue that it doesn't know enough about the mysterious third-party hack to even launch an internal discussion about whether it should clue Apple in to the details.

The Journal reports that an interagency group called the Vulnerabilities Equities Process panel might have decided to tell Apple if there were a security weakness it could fix, but only if the FBI reports that weakness to the group in the first place.

Speaking at a cybersecurity event in Washington, DC, earlier Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey suggested that such a disclosure might not be necessary.

"The threshold is, are we aware of the vulnerability, or did we just buy a tool and don't have sufficient knowledge of the vulnerability to implicate the process?" said Comey, according to a report at Fortune.

Apple told press earlier this month that it believes the vulnerability -- whatever it might be -- will inevitably be fixed as Apple introduces newer devices and software. "We're confident that the vulnerability the government alleges to have found will have a short shelf life," said a senior Apple executive.

The FBI didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

You can find CNET's ongoing coverage of Apple vs. the FBI right here.