Carrier IQ Faces Lawsuits, Government Scrutiny Over Mobile Data Monitoring

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-12-05 Print this article Print

  title=Carrier IQ 'Vigorously' Denies Wiretap Law Violation} 

"For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen," the company stated.

It also "vigorously" disagreed with claims that it violates wiretap laws. The actual information gathered by the software is determined by the carriers, and none of the information is ever sent to Carrier IQ, the company said.

"While I understand and acknowledge the legitimate need for diagnostics software on smartphones, the data that Carrier IQ's software appears to be logging is alarming," Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said in a statement. Franken wrote to the phone vendors and carriers to find out "exactly why they feel the need to install this software on their devices and what they're doing with the information they're gathering."

Apple said it included Carrier IQ in earlier versions of the iPhone but dropped it from iOS 5 and has not collected any personal information. Google has said the software doesn't exist on the Android phones under its control, but may exist on Android devices from other manufacturers. Research In Motion and Nokia have denied loading the software on their phones.

AT&T, Sprint, HTC, Samsung and T-Mobile have admitted some of their phones use the software. HTC and Samsung claimed they installed the software at the request of the carriers. AT&T and Sprint said the software is just a diagnostic tool to collect network and device data that is used for service and quality assurance purposes and denied any privacy violations.

Security researcher Dan Rosenberg wrote on Pastebin that Carrier IQ doesn't actually record keystrokes for data collection. "There's a big difference between 'look, it does something when I press a key' and 'it's sending all my keystrokes to the carrier!'" he wrote.

European regulators are investigating Carrier IQ's monitoring software to determine if mobile phone vendors and carriers are violating consumer privacy. The United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's Office said it will contact mobile phone operators to find out whether Carrier IQ or similar software is installed on U.K. customers' handsets. If the software exists, ICO wants the carriers to explain what steps are being taken to ensure privacy is not compromised, according to the ICO.

"Being open and up-front with customers about how their personal data is being used is fundamental to maintaining their trust," the ICO said.

Germany's Bavarian State Office for Data Protection has also sent a letter to Apple to clarify how the company had used the Carrier IQ software in the iPhone.



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