Alleged Spyware on Carrier IQ Cellphones is Target of Federal Probe

Thursday, 15 Dec 2011 11:24 AM

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A federal investigation is looking into allegations that software from the company Carrier IQ, used on 150 million Americans’ cellphones, tracks user activity and sends the information to companies, without telling consumers. The FBI’s denial of a reporter’s request for information regarding the software also has triggered rumors that it is being used for law enforcement, reports The Washington Post.

The tracking software was discovered a few weeks ago by security researcher Trevor Eckhart, who found that it recorded every key stroke and text message entered by users. The company, whose executives met Tuesday with Federal Trade Commission officials in Washington, D.C, claims that the software was not designed to record this information, and that any such recording would be accidental. It also denied that it supplies companies with tracked data.

“Carrier IQ [has] no rights to the data gathered and [has] not passed data to third parties,” the company said in a written statement.

The law-enforcement rumors began circulating when a reporter with the blog MuckRock News filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI asking for any written documentation pertaining to any Carrier IQ software. The FBI acknowledged it had such materials but denied the request on the grounds that the materials are “law enforcement records.”

“The information you requested is located in an investigative file which is exempt from disclosure,” the FBI told reporter Michael Morisy.

“Should a law enforcement agency request data from us, we would refer them to the network operators,” Carrier IQ’s statement claims.
“To date and to our knowledge we have received no such requests.”

Since researcher Eckhart’s allegations about the software surfaced, several class-action lawsuits have been launched against Carrier IQ and cellphone service providers.

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