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FBI Rejects Freedom of Information Act Request About Carrier IQ 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-jump-to-conclusions dept.
bonch writes with news that website Muckrock recently sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI asking for "manuals, documents or other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by programs developed or deployed by Carrier IQ." The Bureau has now responded with a rejection of the request, claiming an exemption applies because such documents "could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings." While many have been quick to assume the worst, the Muckrock article says it's unclear "whether the FBI used Carrier IQ's software to in its own investigations, whether it is currently investigating Carrier IQ, or whether it is some combination of both - not unlikely given the recent uproar over the practice coupled with the U.S. intelligence communities reliance on third-party vendors."
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FBI Rejects Freedom of Information Act Request About Carrier IQ

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  • I'm stunned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr1911 (1942298) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:18PM (#38349370)
    A government agency does not want to hand over information that may link it to abusing its power. I've never heard of such a thing. Maybe Eric Holder is advising them as to handle the situation.
    • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:20PM (#38349404) Homepage Journal

      A government agency does not want to hand over information that may link it to abusing its power. I've never heard of such a thing. Maybe Eric Holder is advising them as to handle the situation.

      Perhaps Putin made some of his fortune as an adviser.

      being an ex-cagey bee and all...

      • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:29PM (#38349568) Homepage Journal

        You have violated Robot's Rules of Order, and will be asked to leave the future, immediately.

      • Re:I'm stunned (Score:4, Informative)

        by Luckyo (1726890) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:37PM (#38350764)

        Notably, both Stalin's regime and entire Stasi organisation have been significantly less successful at monitoring people. We long past the point where even those comparisons in terms of monitoring would be appropriate. To try to whine about Putin, who actually failed at any significant monitoring of his people (as in comparison to both above) shows extreme depth of ignorance in the subject. As it stands now, top countries in terms of monitoring their citizens are located in the West, and the gap between them and others is more of a huge chasm.

        • Re:I'm stunned (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday December 12, 2011 @11:19PM (#38351464) Homepage Journal

          Citations?

          The KGB and Stasi were remarkably successful at what they did. Yes, I know that the US is moving beyond their example, but how far down that road are we? IMO, the UK is much further along than the US is. And, you could probably make a case for the UK surpassing the USSR. But, citations are in order, if you make that attempt. Not to mention, any attempts to quantify and to qualify the comparisons might be suspect. Are there records available somewhere, documenting how many Stasi there were, and how frequently they monitored each citizen? Can we check their reliability in identifying "enemies of the state"?

          Your final sentence is almost certainly correct. But, how do we verify that?

          • Re:I'm stunned (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @01:42AM (#38352244)

            Stasi was capable actively monitoring every SEVENTH citizen of GDDR. This number was derived directly from their archives, and can be found in a number of currently in-print history books, along with proper sourcing. KGB was significantly weaker in this, in no small part due to the fact that much of USSR didn't even have telephone lines and proper roads until late 70s. The country was just so damn big and sparsely populated. Finally, there was the major problem of management - even if you gathered information like Stasi did, you ended up fucked by the fact that you didn't have resources to process it.

            There are multiple cases of people from companies like Palantir (use google to find citations that haven't been pulled yet due to DMCA or other ways they use to pull them off public websites) stating that not only do US/UK currently monitor EVERY SINGLE CITIZEN, they are officially marketing themselves as companies that have tools that can turn this huge influx of informational mess into useful datasets. In other words they've seen the data, and know that it's a mess due to sheer amounts of it. Which is the main reason why Stasi could only dream of having systems like this in place. Computers powerful enough, networking powerful enough and social incentives for people to put their daily lives into recordable, automatically sortable format simply weren't there in their times.

            I can't find it any more, but I have seen a really nice presentation from Palantir specifically stating all above points that I saw either on wired or ars (or linked from one of their articles on the topic). I'm not sure they still have it though, as it may have gotten pulled on copyright grounds.

          • by houghi (78078)

            and how frequently they monitored each citizen?

            All people on the internet are monitored all the time. I am not paranoia, I KNOW that I am being followed.
            Look at the amount of cameras in the UK.

            Verification is not needed as they will not allow us to verify them so the numbers will not be correct.

            They tell us that they need more police money because people FEEL less safe, not because they ARE. We now FEEL that we must have more insight into what is going on, so give it.

          • Re:I'm stunned (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Yvanhoe (564877) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @07:12AM (#38353486) Journal
            If you could go back to the Cold War era and tell Western citizens that in 2011 they would all carry a device that is always on, is comprised of a microphone and a speaker and broadcast their location to central databases that archive that during several years they would tell you : "so, USSR won ?"
    • Re:I'm stunned (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gription (1006467) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:23PM (#38349448)
      Letting citizens exercise the rights could "interfere with enforcement proceedings" so hand over all your rights immediately!
      • by houghi (78078)

        We are the government, we can't work that fast, but we are working on it.

      • While we're at it, let's install key loggers on all PCs. You know, just in case they need it for "enforcement proceedings".

    • Re:I'm stunned (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:57PM (#38349896) Homepage Journal

      A government agency does not want to hand over information that may link it to abusing its power.

      The only thing we know for sure is that the companies that installed this iCarrier spyware definitely abused their power.

      If the abuse goes up to the FBI, then there's no way that information is not going to come out. We'll know soon enough where iCarrier came from and where we should aim our ire. The iCarrier story is just getting started.

      • by forand (530402)

        Are you trying to subliminally link this to Apple for some reason? The company name is Carrier IQ. No clue what iCarrier is and Google only finds 4 pages with both terms so I am betting that iCarrier is not the name of their software product.

        The Carrier IQ software is a cross platform problem that seems to be associated with the carriers and headset makers, including both Android and Apple devices.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Are you trying to subliminally link this to Apple for some reason? The company name is Carrier IQ.

          No, that was just a mistake on my part.

          Although Apple is listed in the Wikipedia article about Carrier IQ as one of three companies that had installed Carrier IQ on their products. It also says that it is not included in iOS 5.

      • by Nyder (754090)

        A government agency does not want to hand over information that may link it to abusing its power.

        The only thing we know for sure is that the companies that installed this iCarrier spyware definitely abused their power.

        If the abuse goes up to the FBI, then there's no way that information is not going to come out. We'll know soon enough where iCarrier came from and where we should aim our ire. The iCarrier story is just getting started.

        You know i love you like i do my brothers PopeRatzo, but wtf is iCarrier?

        You making shit up again?

        This discussion is about Carrier IQ, not whatever you are talking about.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          You making shit up again?

          Not this time.

          It was an honest mistake, which I've explained above. Just one of those things. Not that there isn't something out there called iCarrier, but that's not what I was referring to.

          Sometimes, when I get really going, and my dudgeon has been sufficiently elevated, I have been known to make this kind of error.

          But now that you mention it, I wonder if my subconscious was making something of an illuminating connection. Like the tired traveler seeking a five-gallon jar of pic

    • Re:I'm stunned (Score:5, Insightful)

      by snowgirl (978879) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:20PM (#38350140) Journal

      A government agency does not want to hand over information that may link it to abusing its power. I've never heard of such a thing. Maybe Eric Holder is advising them as to handle the situation.

      ... or your government might not want to hand over information that it is investigating a criminal act by a corporation.

      If you filed a FOIA request for Maddof's case while they were building it, they would have denied that one, too, but not because they were abusing their power.

      • by danlip (737336)

        That was for a particular case. Because of other rules a criminal case can only remain open for so long. I don't see any time limit for this, and it affects a much broader group (all of us).

        • by snowgirl (978879)

          Because of other rules a criminal case can only remain open for so long.

          It actually depends. Murder cases, due to a lack of statute of limitations, remain open until solved to the police's satisfaction. (Usually, catching the person, and the end of the prosecution. Either successful or not.)

          I don't see any time limit for this...

          There is a statute of limitations on illegal wiretapping, however each new act of illegal wiretapping would extend the investigative case.

          ... it affects a much broader group (all of us).

          Have you seen any lawyer movie or even a single episode of "Law and Order"? Criminal cases are brought in the form of "The People vs. ___", because the id

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        So every single piece of information related to Carrier IQ is tied up in a handful of cases? Surely they could redact info. There's no justifiable reason to outright deny the request.

        • by snowgirl (978879)

          So every single piece of information related to Carrier IQ is tied up in a handful of cases? Surely they could redact info. There's no justifiable reason to outright deny the request.

          Why would the FBI have any information on CarrierIQ that wasn't tied up in the investigation of a case? And you can't leak any case information to the public, not even redacted. In fact, if you can help it, it's better for your case if the public doesn't even know that you're investigating until you charge someone.

      • by TheSpoom (715771)

        C'mon, dude. There's naive and there's this. You really don't think the FBI has a backdoor into Carrier IQ?

    • by couchslug (175151) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:18PM (#38350628)

      Good thing we elected Obama to stop this shit.

      Oh.....

  • Exemptions may apply (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:19PM (#38349378) Homepage Journal

    The rule is: If we don't want you to know, then there's an applicable exemption to the rule.

    And we know where you were last Summer...

    • by lennier (44736)

      And we know where you were last Summer...

      But you don't know where I'll be next.

      And my name's not Summer.

  • by fsckmnky (2505008) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:22PM (#38349426)

    whether the FBI used Carrier IQ's software to in its own investigations, whether it is currently investigating Carrier IQ, or whether it is some combination of both - not unlikely given the recent uproar over the practice coupled with the U.S. intelligence communities reliance on third-party vendors.

    Does it really matter ? If they want CarrierIQ data for a customer, they can just get it from the carrier, and pay the carrier to collect it [for active investigations approved by a judge].

    • by nomel (244635) <turd@[ ]rbit.com ['ino' in gap]> on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:24PM (#38349476) Homepage Journal

      I think something about that last bit is where any interest in the data might come from.

      • by fsckmnky (2505008)
        I'm still confused as to where the controversy comes from. The US government relies on vendors for just about everything.
        • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:37PM (#38349674) Homepage Journal

          The US government relies on vendors for just about everything.

          Including circumventing Constitutional safeguards against unreasonable search and seizure!

          Hey! Look! Google and Facebook are a Trojan Horse for the unaccountable Police State!

    • by jimpop (27817) *

      Go ahead and guess which tool a carrier could use to collect that data.

      • by fsckmnky (2505008)
        I understand. People are upset over the fact that CarrierIQ is being used to collect data. But everyone upset over it, agreed to it, via the TOS they signed with the carrier. So why do any of the details of the collection process matter ?

        I wrote a post about how carrier privacy legislation will be required to fix this, since economic incentive and standard practice and legal precedent at the moment says it's all business as usual.

        Which is why I say ... does it matter *how* the data is being collected, o
        • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:49PM (#38349804)

          People, there is a path here...

          http://androidforums.com/evo-4g-all-things-root/459292-how-do-i-remove-carrier-iq-software.html [androidforums.com]

          Rom your phone, walla no more carrier ifucked.

          It's little things like this why the art of hacking is not all lost despite the American social media's mass confusion.

    • by poena.dare (306891) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:32PM (#38349588)

      Wise question. Simple answer. 3rd party data collection is cheaper for the carriers.

      CEO: These constant warrantless wiretap requests are a pain in the ass. It's only going to get worse.

      CTO: There's a app for that, y'know.

      • by fsckmnky (2505008) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:40PM (#38349698)

        constant warrantless wiretap requests

        There is no evidence of any warrantless wiretapping occouring. Let me explain.

        Customer wants a phone, customer signs TOS agreeing to be monitored. Carrier does monitoring of customer, which customer agreed to. FBI wants data for an investigation. FBI pays carrier to get records of customer, which customer agreed to allow to be collected and logged. This is not a "warrantless wiretap" just as walking into an FBI office and handing them copies of all your records voluntarily is not a warrantless wiretap.

        I completely get that the outcome of the process, is essentially the same as allowing the FBI to have wiretaps, but only on those who agree to it voluntarily, by way of the carrier TOS. Much like it's a given that Googles log data will be sold to the FBI, and Google clearly spells it out in their TOS.

        The meat of this entire issue, is that, there is currently no way to get a phone in the US, from a carrier, and opt-out of the data collection process, such that one does not voluntarily leave a trail of everything they do. Being able to opt-out, would require law enforcement to get a judge approved wiretap to collect current and future information, as no log will have existed ( in the being able to opt out scenario ).

        • Where in the TOS does it say we voluntarily hand the FBI all our records? Allowing the carrier to monitor us is not the same as allowing the federal government to monitor us.

          • by fsckmnky (2505008)

            Where in the TOS does it say we voluntarily hand the FBI all our records? Allowing the carrier to monitor us is not the same as allowing the federal government to monitor us.

            You can check Verizons website for an example. Its in their "privacy policy" and it spells out clearly that you are being monitored and have 0 expectation of privacy. I assume other carriers have the same legal boilerplate, but have not personally investigated all the carriers to claim it as fact.

            As soon as you allow the carrier to log device data, via the TOS, that log data becomes property of the carrier, and they can sell it to whomever they want, which is also stated in their TOS, in wording similar

            • by fsckmnky (2505008)
              as an afterthought ...

              This is the exact same mechanism by which the FBI ( and other law enforcement agencies ) have been obtaining peoples credit card statements for decades. Nobody is making a stink about it, claiming constitutional violations, etc. I'm pretty sure people realize, if you don't want to leave a trail, don't use a credit card.
            • by flaming error (1041742) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:13PM (#38350048) Journal

              > it spells out clearly that you are being monitored and
              > have 0 expectation of privacy
              Website privacy policy != TOS, and provide a URL or it didn't happen.

              No contract with a carrier voids the constitution.

              • by fsckmnky (2505008) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:21PM (#38350144)
                This has zip, 0, nada, to do with the constitution, but you don't get that, because you are on a witch hunt, looking for a witch to burn.

                Go read the mobile device privacy policy / TOS. It's spelled out in black and white. I know this to be a fact for Verizons network, which ironically, apparently, doesn't use CarrierIQ. When you sign up for phone service, you agree to be logged, and you agree to allow {carrier} to give the data to 3rd parties. You have agreed to this. It's no more a violation of the constitution as taking a test and handing it to the teacher, at which point, the teacher can do whatever they want with it. You wouldn't call that a warrantless wiretap would you ?

                When you are done with the witch hunt, the cries of constitutional violations, etc, and you actually start to focus on how to solve the problem, you will realize nothing short of legislation requiring carriers to allow you to opt out will fix this.

                In the meantime, have fun getting angry and burning witches. Anything short of demanding our government representatives fix this via legislation that allows you to opt out will just be wasted emotion, time, and energy.
              • No contract with a carrier voids the constitution

                Your constitution offers you protection from THE GOVERNMENT doing these kind of things. You signed a contract with A PRIVATE PARTY. Your constitution means NOTHING.

                For fuck's sake, someone put this into an X-Factor song so you idiots finally get the message.

        • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:53PM (#38349860) Homepage

          Is Carrier IQ collecting data from customers without their knowledge? Does the FBI have warrants granting them access to those customers' data? If the answer to the former is yes and the answer to the latter is no, what we have is quite literally a warrantless wiretap. It's just that the wiretapping is being carried out by a different party than the one that's supposed to get a warrant.

        • by KhabaLox (1906148)

          The meat of this entire issue, is that, there is currently no way to get a phone in the US, from a carrier, and opt-out of the data collection process, such that one does not voluntarily leave a trail of everything they do. Being able to opt-out, would require law enforcement to get a judge approved wiretap to collect current and future information, as no log will have existed ( in the being able to opt out scenario ).

          I don't have a smart phone. Why? Because my work provides me with one. There is probably no way for me to opt-out of any kind of data collection that the carrier (or my employer) wants to do. In essence, to be employed in any kind of technological, sales, management, or host of other areas, you are essentially required to be tracked at all times.

          • by fsckmnky (2505008)

            There is probably no way for me to opt-out of any kind of data collection that the carrier (or my employer) wants to do.

            That does indeed add a whole other dimension to the problem of how to opt out of data logging, since I believe it has already been decided that employers can monitor employees activities on employer owned devices being used for work.

            • by KhabaLox (1906148)

              I don't necessarily have a problem with my employer watching what apps I install, or what sites I browse. Afterall, it is their phone. But theoretically they also have complete access to where I am (though I suppose I could turn off location services).

        • While it's not a warrantless wiretap, it could be a warrantless pen register.
          • by fsckmnky (2505008)
            It could be, except for the fact that people give permission for the carrier to "provide" ( that means give or sell ) the data to third parties, of which law enforcement is [a third party]. Therefore, it's not a warrantless pen register either.
        • I believe he was referring to the system they had before, the illegal warrentless wiretapping [wikipedia.org].
  • The funny thing here is Carriers already save text message data Without Carrier IQ - and they have the ability to save URL data also since we are on their network. why would the FBI need Carrier IQ unless it was getting more data than that? Pictures we take on our phones? videos? emails ? http://www.pcmag.com/image_popup/0,1740,iid=313504,00.asp [pcmag.com]
    • they have the ability to save URL data also since we are on their network.

      Not if you're connecting to the website using SSL, they don't.

  • Data logging (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bonch (38532) * on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:27PM (#38349522)

    If the FBI is using Carrier IQ data for investigative purposes, doesn't that call into question the earlier claim from security researchers that Carrier IQ isn't logging data [slashdot.org]?

  • ... itself also undoubtedly "could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings."

    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      Well, the 4th Amendment itself also undoubtedly "could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings."

      Don't give them any ideas.

  • Stallman Was Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:35PM (#38349634)

    "It was also possible to bypass the copyright monitors by installing a modified system kernel. Dan would eventually find out about the free kernels, even entire free operating systems, that had existed around the turn of the century. But not only were they illegal, like debuggers—you could not install one if you had one, without knowing your computer's root password. And neither the FBI nor Microsoft Support would tell you that." - The Right to Read [gnu.org]

  • Congratulations on making your request. Welcome to The List.

    • While your at it, might as well inquire about "The List" too.

      If there's going to be a dog and pony show, might as well go along for the ride.

  • by the linux geek (799780) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:45PM (#38349758)
    The new National Defense Authorization Act contains an amendment allowing the military the authority to detain American citizens, on American soil, indefinitely and without access to an attorney. The President has said he'll veto it; write to him and hold him to it! This has wide bipartisan support, and while I'm typically hesitant of doomsaying about America becoming a police state, this is the legal codification of one!

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/NDAA [aclu.org]
  • by Guppy (12314) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:15PM (#38350068)

    "As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism.
    Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."

      --Pravin Lal

"Someone's been mean to you! Tell me who it is, so I can punch him tastefully." -- Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse

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