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FBI admits to using Carrier IQ data

A tool for the men in black
Tue Dec 13 2011, 16:16

THE US FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI) has been using data gathered by Carrier IQ for law enforcement, according to documents obtained by a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Carrier IQ's tracker-ware has come under intense criticism since it was found to be tracking user habits without the users' knowledge. Now in response to a FOI request, the FBI denied access to the documents stating they are exempt because the "records or information [are] compiled for law enforcement purposes".

The FBI continued by stating that although it compiles records through Carrier IQ, it is "only to the extent that the production of such law enforcements records or information". So the FBI is being cagey on how it uses the information that it receives through Carrier IQ's software, which is not that surprising, but given that we know what information is recorded it is possible to make educated guesses.

Carrier IQ has released a document in which the firm claims to detail exactly what it logs. One thing that would interest the FBI is location information, something Carrier IQ has admitted to recording.

In an interview with The INQUIRER, Carrier IQ's VP of marketing Andrew Coward said the firm uses location information so mobile operators can target specific demographics when collecting data. The firm has now provided an example of a heat-map generated through location tracking and it is not very hard to see how this information could be useful for law enforcement agencies.

It's not particularly surprising to hear the FBI is tapping into the rich vein of information provided by Carrier IQ. Even if Carrier IQ's software doesn't send the information back directly to the FBI, it is likely the mobile operators could be forced to hand it over. µ


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