FBI denies using controversial cellphone tracking software

FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers on Wednesday that his agency has not used data from Carrier IQ, a controversial cellphone tracking software company, in its investigations.

"We have neither sought nor obtained any information from Carrier IQ in any one of our investigations," Mueller said in response to questioning from Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Man who threatened to kill Obama, Maxine Waters faces up to 20 years in prison Gillibrand defends her call for Franken to resign MORE (D-Minn.).


Carrier IQ's software, which is embedded in millions of smartphones, tracks users' key strokes and is designed to help companies ensure their phones are operating effectively.

Critics of the technology say it could collect the phone numbers consumers dial, the contents of their text messages, the websites they visit, their search queries and even their locations.

Earlier this week, the FBI denied a news website's request under the Freedom of Information Act to release information about its use of the tracking software, sparking widespread speculation that law enforcement agents were using Carrier IQ to snoop on users.

The FBI said any records were exempt from disclosure because they were related to “a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding.”

But Mueller said the agency was just using a "standard exemption" and has not actually used Carrier IQ in any investigations.

Franken pressed Mueller on whether the FBI has obtained Carrier IQ data from wireless companies.

"I don't believe so," Mueller said, but he added he would have to check.

Carrier IQ met with officials at the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission this week. The company acknowledges it has access to significant amounts of user data but says it does not store or transmit any private information.