The head of the FBI told a Senate panel Wednesday that the agency has not sought information directly from the cellphone tracker Carrier IQ.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI director Robert Mueller said, “We have neither sought nor obtained any information from Carrier IQ in any of our investigations.
Responding to a question from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mueller said that he did not believe that the bureau had sought any information on wireless companies’ use of Carrier IQ software but that he had to get more details for the committee. He said it is possible that the bureau may get data that “in some way Carrier IQ may have been involved with.”
Speculation that the FBI was using Carrier IQ data in investigations arose after Michael Morisy from MuckRock News reported that his Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI for files on Carrier IQ had been denied. In the letter, the FBI said that it was denying the request because the files were law enforcement records and “that there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records; and that release of the information contained in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with the enforcement proceedings.”
At the hearing, Mueller said that the wording in the agency’s FOIA response had been misunderstood to imply that the FBI was getting information from the firm. He referred to the phrase about a law enforcement proceeding as a “standard exemption” used in denying some FOIA requests.
In response to a Washington Post inquiry about whether there was such an investigation, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment on whether the FBI was investigating Carrier IQ or using the software for surveillance purposes.
On Wednesday, federal officials confirmed to the The Post that the Federal Trade Commission is conducting an inquiry into Carrier IQ.
Carrier IQ spokesman Andrew Coward told The Post Wednesday that he was “not aware of an official investigation” by the FTC but that the company had set up meetings with regulators and lawmakers in Washington.