December 15, 2011
FTC, FCC Reportedly Investigating Carrier IQ
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly investigating the allegations that smartphone software developed by Carrier IQ has been tracking user activity and transmitting the data to third-parties without consumer consent.
In a Wednesday article, Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post, citing unnamed government officials, saai that executives from the company traveled to Washington D.C. on Tuesday to meet with FTC and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials to discuss their controversial program, which Horwitz says can be found on approximately 150 million mobile phones.
"We are complying with all investigations at this time as we have nothing to hide," Mira Woods of Carrier IQ´s marketing communications department told the Washington Post reporter. "We have been completely transparent through this process."
When asked about the nature of the meeting by CNET's Elinor Mills, Carrier IQ Vice President of Marketing Andrew Coward confirmed that he had been in the nation's capital Monday and Tuesday and had met with officials from both government organizations.
However, he did not say that the technology company was being probed by either group, saying that "investigation" was "probably too strong a word“¦ we sought the meetings with the FCC and FTC in the interest of transparency and full disclosure, and to answer their questions."
FTC spokeswoman Claudia Bourne Farrell told Mills that she could "neither confirm nor deny" that they were looking into the Carrier IQ software issue, which came to light a few weeks ago after security research posted a YouTube video that allegedly showed evidence that it could record users' keystrokes and text messages and transmit that information to cellphone carriers.
According to Horwitz, Coward and Carrier IQ Chief Executive Larry Lenhart also met with congressional staff members. Back on December 2, Massachusetts Representative Edward J. Markey has requested the FTC to investigate the firm in order to determine whether or not they were guilty of unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
"Three of the four major cellular providers – AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint – have said they use the company´s software in line with their own privacy policies," Horwitz said. "A Verizon spokesman said the program is not present on any of the company´s mobile devices. Apple has said it would remove Carrier IQ from iPhones in a future software update.
As previously reported on RedOrbit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) denied one reporter's request for access to "manuals, documents of other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by any Carrier IQ program under the Freedom of Information Act.
That request was filed by Muckrock News reporter Michael Morisy, but was denied by the FBI, who confirmed that they had information but could not release it because it was considered "law enforcement records."
Morisy said that the denial by the FBI to release the information does not necessarily mean that the program is being used as spyware by the government. He said that it could also mean that the FBI is investigating Carrier IQ. For their part, Carrier IQ officials said that they have not provided any data to the FBI, and that if they were "approached by a law enforcement agency, we would refer them to the network operators because the diagnostic data collected belongs to them and not Carrier IQ."
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