Carrier IQ - The FBI connection

Freedom of Information Act request refused on the grounds it 'could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.'

A Freedom of Information Act request submitted by MuckRock to the FBI regarding Carrier IQ results in an interesting twist.

The request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation was made for "manuals, documents or other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by programs developed or deployed by Carrier IQ." The FBI refused, quoting exemption 7(A):

... records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that production of such law enforcement records or information . . . could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.

Three possibilities come from this:

  1. The G Men already use information collected by Carrier IQ (an activity which Carrier IQ itself vigorously denies any involvement in)
  2. The Feds realize that there might be a treasure trove of information here, and are planning to make use of it
  3. Carrier IQ itself is under investigation

This is MuckRock's take on the matter:

What is still unclear is whether the FBI used Carrier IQ's software in its own investigations, whether it is currently investigating Carrier IQ, or whether it is some combination of both - not unlikely given the recent uproar over the practice coupled with the U.S. intelligence communities reliance on third-party vendors. The response would seem to indicate at least the former, since the request was specifically for documents related directly to accessing and analyzing Carrier IQ data.

Whatever the reason for the refusal, it is bound to add more fuel to the argument that collecting information without user opt-in raises some serious privacy concerns.