FBI denies FOIA request regarding its usage of Carrier IQ

MuckRock News reports that a Freedom of Information Act request it submitted for "manuals, documents or other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by programs developed or deployed by Carrier IQ" was denied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In its denial, the FBI stated that it does have responsive documents, but that they were exempt from the FOIA request due to the provision that covers materials that might reasonably interfere with an ongoing investigation.

As you'll recall, Carrier IQ leapt to the top of the headlines a month ago when it was discovered to log keystrokes, location data and other potentially alarming information, according to security researcher Trevor Eckhart. Most worrying was that it was impossible to disable or opt out of the service without wiping the entire phone.

Since then, Carrier IQ has been confirmed to be installed on phones from carriers AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Manufacturers Apple, HTC and Samsung admitted that the software was installed on their phones in various forms and levels of functionality, though Apple said it had already stopped supporting the application in iOS 5.

Whether the FBI is using or has used Carrier IQ's software in its investigations or is currently investigating Carrier IQ itself (or perhaps some combination of these actions) is still unknown, although the FBI's flat denial of the FOIA request lends credence to the idea that they are involved with Carrier IQ somehow. MuckRock speculates that the denial would seem to indicate that the FBI has used Carrier IQ's software in investigations, as the filing by Michael Morisy of MuckRock specifically requested documents related to the accessing and analyzing of Carrier IQ data.

Morisy plans to appeal the blanket denial. The FBI's full denial can be viewed at MuckRock.

In its defense, Carrier IQ released a 19-page document on Monday explaining its software and services in an attempt to allay the heated suspicions pointed at it, including attention from a U.S. congressman.

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14 Comments

Looks like bull-crap, smells like bull-crap and reads like bull-crap.

You have no privacy, freedom or independence unless you make the jungle your habitat and ditch electricity. It's a crime of the time we live in.

TextOnAFlatScreen said,
Looks like bull-crap, smells like bull-crap and reads like bull-crap.

You have no privacy, freedom or independence unless you make the jungle your habitat and ditch electricity. It's a crime of the time we live in.

Unless of course the phone is reformatted, rule for me from here onwards: format anything format-able and put it into a clean state. At least with android we can do that...

Arceles said,

Unless of course the phone is reformatted, rule for me from here onwards: format anything format-able and put it into a clean state. At least with android we can do that...

Sometimes.

I do feel a little more tired every time I see someone further the false idea that anyone with an Android handset can simply download cyanogenmod and 'free' their phone.

TextOnAFlatScreen said,
You have no privacy, freedom or independence unless you make the jungle your habitat and ditch electricity. It's a crime of the time we live in.
It's alright... the US, via companies like McDonalds, is leading the campaign of deforestation and it's refusal to address anthropogenic climate change is doing the rest. You won't have to worry about forests for very much longer.

Moker said,
makes me wonder if we're paying for the cellular companies to send information from our phones to them.

Really? Well, don't waste your energy, because you aren't.

The idea that information on every keystroke, every message, every app installed and URL visited is shipped off hourly to vast armies of agents tapping PgDn every few seconds all day long is at best silly. The idea that it's kept in storage warehouses for all time, waiting for men in suits and sunglasses to request access at a whim is marginally less silly, but still unrealistic (internet paranoid types have long ignored the simple matter of operational costs when they absorb new theories about Big Brother).

It's far more likely that all of the information collected--whatever it may be--is analysed on the spot by software (not humans) and reduced to *meta* data. Especially in the case of Carrier IQ, where it's far less important WHO is doing something than WHERE something is done and on WHAT type of device.

Frankly, I find there to be an unhealthy lack of information coming from blogs and journalists helping people understand the difference between their personal information and meta data. It's an extremely important thing to understand, especially when you're trying to pick which battles you want to fight.

Joshie said,

Really? Well, don't waste your energy, because you aren't.

The idea that information on every keystroke, every message, every app installed and URL visited is shipped off hourly to vast armies of agents tapping PgDn every few seconds all day long is at best silly. The idea that it's kept in storage warehouses for all time, waiting for men in suits and sunglasses to request access at a whim is marginally less silly, but still unrealistic (internet paranoid types have long ignored the simple matter of operational costs when they absorb new theories about Big Brother).

It's far more likely that all of the information collected--whatever it may be--is analysed on the spot by software (not humans) and reduced to *meta* data. Especially in the case of Carrier IQ, where it's far less important WHO is doing something than WHERE something is done and on WHAT type of device.

Frankly, I find there to be an unhealthy lack of information coming from blogs and journalists helping people understand the difference between their personal information and meta data. It's an extremely important thing to understand, especially when you're trying to pick which battles you want to fight.

Isnt that what black budgets are for?

Just as there is always money available for war, so there will always be money available for surveillance such as this. And no I dont expect them to flat out admit this - it would kinda nullify their efforts.

Probably categorise it under the "War on Terror" or whatever buzz words are being pushed around these days and carry on as normal.

Anyway, what about Echelon - isnt that a global communications monitoring tool ?
Been operating for decades - plenty of money for that isnt there ?

ramesees said,

Isnt that what black budgets are for?

Just as there is always money available for war, so there will always be money available for surveillance such as this. And no I dont expect them to flat out admit this - it would kinda nullify their efforts.

Probably categorise it under the "War on Terror" or whatever buzz words are being pushed around these days and carry on as normal.

Anyway, what about Echelon - isnt that a global communications monitoring tool ?
Been operating for decades - plenty of money for that isnt there ?

The problem is, how is it healthy to run around with theories that can never be proven wrong? The government is doing this or that, but oh! They might deny it and have evidence to the contrary and so on and so forth, but it's all faked! Or hidden! Or it's a cover-up!

Once every question can be answered with a shrug and little more than an "it's the government, after all" sentiment, it stops being a valid curiosity and just devolves into trailer park nonsense.

Of course money goes to this and that, and of course there are things the government won't admit, but those facts can't be used to feed every single tiny suspicion that comes along, or you just wind up dealing with the counter argument that, if the government can so fantastically manage so many complex programs that cost so much money and then do a fantastic job of perfectly keeping them under wraps, why do we always accuse them of being incompetent? Clearly these are mentally superior beings!

Nothing ever seems to be taken with a grain of salt anymore. Nobody ever seems to take a step back and ask "Well now hang on, is there actually evidence for this, is it viable evidence, is it being presented objectively, and is it being interpreted objectively?" We all just rush head first with ideas we've already decided are facts and shape new information to support those ideas.

CarrierIQ has readers split into three camps all by itself: those who don't care, those who want more information, and those who FREAKED THE FARK OUT on day one, ranting and raving about surveillance, freedom, evil corporate interests, privacy, and big brother. It all sounds like the kind of crap you'd expect from a cheesy B movie side character in fly-over country with foil on his head, and yet this has now become the mainstream go-to perception in the tech community. There are still kiddies banging away at their QWERTYs on XDA about how CIQ is a 'rootkit' (despite it being nothing of the sort) or a 'trojan'. It's idiotic, but it's where people want to take their thoughts on the issue.

Objectivism and rationality are just *poof* and irrelevant. We're either invisible and free on the internet, or under constant supervision by lizard gods from the fourth dimension living in their space base in the Earth's core.

Edited by Joshie, Dec 14 2011, 9:47am :

Joshie said,

The problem is, how is it healthy to run around with theories that can never be proven wrong? The government is doing this or that, but oh! They might deny it and have evidence to the contrary and so on and so forth, but it's all faked! Or hidden! Or it's a cover-up!

Of course money goes to this and that, and of course there are things the government won't admit, but those facts can't be used to feed every single tiny suspicion that comes along, or you just wind up dealing with the counter argument that, if the government can so fantastically manage so many complex programs that cost so much money and then do a fantastic job of perfectly keeping them under wraps, why do we always accuse them of being incompetent? Clearly these are mentally superior beings!

Government and its associated agencies are entities which must be questioned by all the citizens of a country at every available opportunity. There is plenty of evidence going back decades about the involvement of such entities in the deliberate harming and plotting against US citizens which if it were raised at the time would have labelled the people questioning it as kooks, weirdos, conspiracy nutjobs and all manner of other deeply derogatory titles.

The sort of people who for example were involved in the infection of US citizens with syphillis or planning Operation Northwoods are still in those positions today. They are in a lot of cases above the law, operating at Top Secret and above clearance levels doing whatever they feel like with no responsibility or reproach.

That we are being tracked and surveilled across the entire world by multiple agencies in multiple countries is taken as a given, and the laws which are passed to further erode our freedom are also paraded around with an almost enviable arrogance.

The people in these agencies and governments wont suddenly wake up some morning and say "ooh, do you know what, our predecessors killed people, covered it up, plotted to kill their own citizens and blame others, but lets take the high ground, come clean and make daisy chains". If anything, they will make new laws, create new powers, and ride roughshod over whatever bit of freedoms we have left all because they can and think no-one will stop them.

There is plenty of evidence depending on where you look for the activities these people get up to - not all of it is a crackpot conspiracy!

ramesees said,

Government and its associated agencies are entities which must be questioned by all the citizens of a country at every available opportunity. There is plenty of evidence going back decades about the involvement of such entities in the deliberate harming and plotting against US citizens which if it were raised at the time would have labelled the people questioning it as kooks, weirdos, conspiracy nutjobs and all manner of other deeply derogatory titles.

The sort of people who for example were involved in the infection of US citizens with syphillis or planning Operation Northwoods are still in those positions today. They are in a lot of cases above the law, operating at Top Secret and above clearance levels doing whatever they feel like with no responsibility or reproach.

That we are being tracked and surveilled across the entire world by multiple agencies in multiple countries is taken as a given, and the laws which are passed to further erode our freedom are also paraded around with an almost enviable arrogance.

The people in these agencies and governments wont suddenly wake up some morning and say "ooh, do you know what, our predecessors killed people, covered it up, plotted to kill their own citizens and blame others, but lets take the high ground, come clean and make daisy chains". If anything, they will make new laws, create new powers, and ride roughshod over whatever bit of freedoms we have left all because they can and think no-one will stop them.

There is plenty of evidence depending on where you look for the activities these people get up to - not all of it is a crackpot conspiracy!


I don't buy the paranoia. I acknowledge that stuff happens, but it still doesn't excuse the knee jerk buffoonery of the tinfoil hat brigade. They fail to ask any of the right questions and seem to get off on the belief that the government is a sinister watcher of mankind.

Here's another super simple question people aren't asking: what's in it for them? Agencies do things with a goal in mind, and that goal isn't to sit in a chair somewhere, stroking a cat and laughing maniacally while basking in the glory of dominance. They wouldn't get nearly as many employees if that were the case (authority whackjobs join the police, not the CIA). Politicians are motivated by a combination of their own personal/party battles (based on their actual beliefs) and their political job security (pandering to the base). Agencies are motivated by the whim of the government (made up of those aforementioned interests) as well as national security and public safety.

At some level, many--if not most--of these folk believe they're acting in the best interest of the citizenry. While their decisions may ultimately be poorly thought out and/or executed, they aren't toddlers squishing ants.

Right or wrong, we have to accept that everything we use to communicate electronically is almost certainly being logged in some way, this will only become more detailed in time as the technology improves on both ends.

If you look at it from a law enforcement standpoint, it will make more sense, "protection" from criminals and boogeymen or "safety" from (insert scary reason here) are always used as the justification for such actions, whether you agree or not doesn't matter because it's going to happen.
Government wants the details, they want the ability to EASILY monitor any given target and also the ability to look back in time with the highest level of detail possibly. Companies are only interested in what will make them the most money, whatever level of detail that requires.

The NSA didn't call the World Wide Web the World Wide Wiretap for nothing. I have family in NSA and Federal Law Enforcement and if the world knew their real capability, it probably spark a change in communication habits. Your best bet is to behave as if every single thing you do is being scrutinized by one of these. By warehousing information, everyone and anyone is subject to this, your role in the world will determine the level of interest others have in your information.

Companies don't "care" about you, they only want your money. Government doesn't "care" about you, they only want to CONTROL and manage you. If people understood this better, there would be less confusion.

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