CarrierIQ comes clean how a “bug” caused unintentional collection of text messages, while FBI rejects requests for transparency

In a matter of less than two weeks, the Carrier IQ controversy blew up and became the mainstream topic in national newspapers and evening newscast. The idea that over a hundred million cell phone owners weren’t aware of an app that secretly collect personal information without their consent has had privacy advocates cry foul.

Making the privacy scare even more scary, The Federal Bureau of Investigation refused to release information about its own use of Carrier IQ in response to the request under the Freedom of Information Act filed December 1 by Michael Morisy. David Hardy, who’s with the Bureau, replied:

The material you requested is located in an investigative file which is exempt from disclosure. I have determined that the records responsive to your request are law enforcement records; that there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records.

That the agency wasn’t forthcoming to Morisy’s request to release any manuals and documents outlining their use of data gathered by Carrier IQ only serves to underscore the lack of transparency on their part, if not a waste of taxpayers’ money. That’s not to say that Big Brother is monitoring your calls or eavesdropping on your messaging all the time, but the Bureau clearly has had this capability for a long time and could be working with Carrier IQ to downplay the media outrage.

UPDATE: Carrier IQ reacted to the FBI statement, telling VentureBeat it doesn’t don’t give your data to the FBI or any other law enforcement for that matter. “Just to clarify all of the media frenzy around the FBI, Carrier IQ has never provided any data to the FBI”, a company spokesperson said.

As we repeatedly stressed, Carrier IQ is the mobile industry’s worst kept secret. Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart and vice president of marketing Andrew Coward sat down with AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski to discuss the controversial data mining software. In damage control mode, the two executives pretty much admitted to Carrier IQ’s keylogger-like capabilities and sucking your SMS messages into the cloud…

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