Carrier IQ’s Problems Not Going Away Any Time Soon
by Xavier Digiti
Washington DC – “You agreed to let us do it! ” Sprint, AT&T, HTC and Samsung all stated that when its users signed the end-user licensing agreements, the users gave them the right to use Carrier IQ to monitor app deployment, phone CPU output, connectivity metrics, and battery life. That was their response to Senator Al Franken of Minnesota’s inquiry into Carrier IQ function and role in the cell phone industry. Sen. Franken’s request was sent after Travis Eckhart, an app developer, discovered Carrier IQ installed and running in his HTC EVO. The companies also reported that the software has been in use for years.
T-Mobile and Motorola are expected to respond to Sen. Al Franken’s inquiry by December 20, 2011. They have acknowledged using the software in their devices.
According to reports, the carriers decide what data they receive from carrier IQ. An example is that the phone may transmit text-message data only when a message fails to get delivered. Some carriers collect the data on an anonymous basis, allowing the carrier to obtain the necessary data to analyze network traffic, and connectivity data without knowing who the user is. Other carrier’s however, collect enough data to relate an event to a particular user. Meaning that they know how many times the battery is changed, how many times a charger is used, or what apps are taking the majority of your battery life.
Senator Franken has this to say about the responses:
“I appreciate the responses I received, but I’m still very troubled by what’s going on,” said Sen. Franken. “People have a fundamental right to control their private information. After reading the companies’ responses, I’m still concerned that this right is not being respected. The average user of any device equipped with Carrier IQ software has no way of knowing that this software is running, what information it is getting, and who it is giving it to-and that’s a problem. It appears that Carrier IQ has been receiving the contents of a number of text messages-even though they had told the public that they did not. I’m also bothered by the software’s ability to capture the contents of our online searches – even when users wish to encrypt them. So there are still many questions to be answered here and things that need to be fixed.”
Below are links to the carrier’s response, hosted on Senator Franken’s web site. The links feature his letters to AT&T, Sprint, HTC and Samsung, and their responses:
- HTC: http://franken.senate.gov/files/letter/111214_HTC_Response_to_Sen_Franken_CarrierIQ.pdf
- AT&T: http://franken.senate.gov/files/letter/111214_Att_Response_to_Sen_Franken_CarrierIQ.pdf
- Sprint: http://franken.senate.gov/files/letter/111214_Sprint_Response_to_Sen_Franken_CarrierIQ.pdf
- Samsung: http://franken.senate.gov/files/letter/111214_Samsung_Response_to_Sen_Franken_CarrierIQ.pdf
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