Earlier this week, the FBI denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for materials about Carrier IQ, a company that we posted about recently after a security expert revealed that Carrier IQ’s software is installed on millions of smartphones. According to media reports, the FOIA request was sent by MuckRock and specifically asked for “manuals, documents or other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by programs developed or deployed by Carrier IQ.” The FBI released a curiously worded statement in response which seemed to hint that the FBI is currently working hand-in-hand with Carrier IQ or that Carrier IQ is the subject of an FBI investigation.
Today, however, FBI Director Robert Mueller denied the agency ever sought any information directly from Carrier IQ for any of its investigations.
But he hedged a bit saying that he “couldn’t rule out the possibility that some customer data obtained by the FBI from wireless carriers may have been gathered by Carrier IQ’s software.” But then he said that the FBI has “neither sought nor obtained any information from Carrier IQ in any one of our investigations.”
So basically, while denying that the FBI has directly worked with Carrier IQ to collect information, he did leave the door open to the possibility that they have worked with wireless providers to obtain the information collected by Carrier IQ’s software.
The difference to the people that have been spied on is probably pretty slim.