Carriers, Phone Vendors Have No Interest in Gathering Personal Data

By J. Gerry Purdy  |  Posted 2011-12-12 Print this article Print

The software doesn't pass on the content of the failed message or dropped calls. It just passes on the network and handset diagnostics around the dropped call or failed message. The information is placed into an encrypted database from which analysis and inquiry can be made. Furthermore, none of this information is ever sold to third parties.

Operators can look at where dropped calls are happening and the time of day and then install additional equipment to prevent or at least lower the incidence of those dropped calls.  I've seen "low signal strength" on my handset in some locations.  Later on, I all of a sudden notice that "high signal strength" at that same location once improvements were made in the network.

According to Dan Rosenberg, an independent security researcher, "Since the beginning of the media frenzy over Carrier IQ, I have repeatedly stated that based on my knowledge of the software, claims that keystrokes, SMS bodies, email bodies and other data of this nature are being collected are erroneous."

Manufacturers are able to analyze how the devices are performing, such as what applications are more prevalent and how much of the different resources in the phone are being used. They can then improve power management and determine how to improve the handset so the user experience is better.

So, the next time you see a segment on Brian Williams Nightly News or read a piece stating that performance and behavior of smartphones is being monitored, you should think, "Of course they are monitoring the performance and behavior in my smartphone! How else are they going to fix it when it doesn't work?"

Wireless operators and handset manufacturers don't want or need to gather information about what you're doing unless there is either a court order or a terrorist threat. They simply want to build great smartphones and offer the best network quality of service possible.

The next time you see the FBI is able to stop someone from doing something to interrupt the safety and lives of U.S. citizens or in drug trafficking, you'll likely be thrilled that their devices have monitoring software and the ability for the network operator to track phones when under a court order or in the interests of national security.

At the same time, we have to make sure that such monitoring is kept confidential for the 99.9 percent of people like you and me who simply want to enjoy the benefits of owning and using a mobile device.

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., is Principal Analyst of Mobile & Wireless at MobileTrax LLC.
Dr. Purdy has been covering mobile, wireless, cloud & enterprise for the past 20+ years. He writes analysis and recommendations each week in an easy-to-read manner that helps people better understand important technology issues and assist them in making better technology purchasing decisions.

Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in a column. If that situation happens, then IÔÇÖll disclose it at that time.

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