It has been just over three months since the Carrier IQ “spygate” epidemic engulfed the mobile world. As smartphones and tablets become more powerful, consumers are becoming even more concerned with their mobile privacy as numerous smartphones have been found to track users’ locations, phone calls, text messages and even which websites they visit. While the companies that used Carrier IQ’s tracking software claimed it was for diagnostic purposes, the service was promptly removed from “infected” handsets. Verizon, which never used Carrier IQ, in the past two days has updated two Android handsets to include a new “Remote Diagnostics” tool, which some fear may be the next big privacy concern. Read on for more. More →
Democratic Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts released a draft of his cell phone privacy bill on Monday. The Mobile Device Privacy Act is designed to protect consumers from tracking software such as Carrier IQ, which caused an uproar late last year when it was discovered to be secretly monitoring 150 million smartphone users. The bill would require companies to disclose the use of such tracking software and clarify exactly what information the software collects. Customers would have to consent to any data collected or transmitted, and third parties would have to file applications with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to ensure the data is being transmitted securely. “Consumers have the right to know and to say ‘no’ to the presence of software on their mobile devices that can collect and transmit their personal and sensitive information,” said Markey when speaking to The Hill. Markey serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus. More →
Last month, Sprint disabled the controversial Carrier IQ software across all devices on the company’s network. Further reports claimed the company was instructing manufacturers to prepare updates that would remove the software completely. HTC, one such manufacturer, confirmed as much when speaking to The Verge. “HTC can confirm that we’re working with Sprint to provide maintenance releases that will remove Carrier IQ and provide security enhancements and bug fixes beginning in January,” said an HTC representative. We can only assume that other Sprint devices will follow, though there is no time frame to report. Carrier IQ had been used to provide carriers with critical feedback based on network quality, however reports soon emerged that the software could be used to spy on users. Panic ensued, and the United States Senate requested that the company address privacy concerns. Since then, carriers have been in the process of separating themselves from the software. More →
Sprint on Friday confirmed that it has disabled Carrier IQ on its servers and it is no longer actively using the software to collect diagnostic data. ”We have weighed customer concerns and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected,” a Sprint spokesperson told Mobile Burn. “We are further evaluating options regarding this diagnostic software as well as Sprint’s diagnostic needs.” Sprint revealed in a letter to Senator Al Franken earlier this week that Carrier IQ is currently installed on approximately 26 million Sprint smartphones. Reports from earlier on Friday suggested that Sprint has already begun notifying its vendor partners to remove Carrier IQ software from their handsets, but Sprint did not directly address those claims. More →
Documents related to a Senate inquiry into Carrier IQ and its smartphone software reveal that Sprint is by far the company’s biggest carrier client in the United States. Sprint stated in a letter to Senator Al Franken, which is now public record, that Carrier IQ software is installed on more than 26 million of its handsets. A similar letter from AT&T states that the mobile tracking software is installed on 900,000 AT&T phones, but the carrier said it is only collecting data from approximately 575,000 of them. Both companies reaffirmed earlier statements claiming they only use Carrier IQ software for diagnostic purposes and not to gather private user data or to track subscribers. ”Sprint has not used Carrier IQ diagnostics to profile customer behavior, serve targeted advertising, or for any purpose not specifically related to certifying that a device is able to operate on Sprint’s network or otherwise to improve network operations and customer experiences,” Sprint wrote in its letter. AT&T made similar claims. A link to Senator Franken’s full response to the letters, which includes links to letters from Sprint, AT&T, Samsung and HTC regarding their use of Carrier IQ, follows below. Samsung states in its letter that Carrier IQ is installed on approximately 25 million of its smartphones, and HTC says roughly 6.3 million of its handsets shipped with the software pre-installed. More →
Federal investigators have launched a probe in order to examine Carrier IQ’s smartphone software, which tracks a range of activity and sends certain data to wireless carriers without users’ knowledge. Carrier IQ executives met with officials from both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commuission on Tuesday, The Washington Post reports. “We are complying with all investigations at this time as we have nothing to hide,” said Carrier IQ representative Mira Woods. “We have been completely transparent through this process.” Read on for more. More →
The FBI has denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for materials about Carrier IQ, a company that has been in the spotlight recently after a security expert revealed that its software is installed on millions of smartphones. The FOIA request was sent by MuckRock and specifically asked for “manuals, documents or other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by programs developed or deployed by Carrier IQ.” FBI section chief David Hardy responded to MuckRock’s request with the following statement:
I have determined that the records responsive to your request are law enforcement records; that there is a pending prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these records; and that release of the information contained in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with the enforcement proceedings.
It is unknown if the FBI is currently working hand-in-hand with Carrier IQ or if Carrier IQ is the subject of an FBI investigation. MuckRock said that it plans to appeal the FBI’s FOIA denial. More →
Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently explained that Google does not support or endorse Carrier IQ, the company that has been accused of secretly bugging phones with spyware capable of logging keystrokes and more. A security expert recently revealed that Carrier IQ is installed on millions of smartphones, including Android devices and the iPhone. Wireless carriers such as Sprint and AT&T have said the software is installed purely for quality control purposes. “It’s a key-logger, and it actually does keep your keystrokes, and we certainly don’t work with them and we certainly don’t support it,” Schmidt said during a recent conference. “Android is an open platform, so it’s possible for people to build software that’s actually not very good for you, and this appears to be one.” Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ have been sued in class-action lawsuits over the software. If you’re worried about whether or not your phone has the tracking software installed, follow our guide on how to find out in just one tap. More →
Carrier IQ, the vendor and carrier-installed rootkit software pulled into the spotlight last month by security researcher Trevor Eckhart, has caused quite a stir. Carriers including AT&T and Sprint use the software as a means of collecting data logs that might help them identify and address connectivity problems and other issues, but the software’s covert nature and wide range of snooping capabilities make it a concern. The good news is that detecting the software on your Android phone couldn’t be easier thanks to a new app from Bitdefender called Carrier IQ Finder. Read on for more. More →
Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ have been sued in a federal court by what the lawyers involved have deemed a “cell phone tracking software scandal.” Law firms Sianni & Straite LLP, Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP, and Keefe Bartels L.L.C. have jointly filed a class action complaint in a Delaware Federal Court related to the “unprecedented breach of the digital privacy rights of 150 million cell phone users.” The complaint suggests that the aforementioned carriers and vendors violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The suit of course refers to the companies’ use of Carrier IQ, the carrier and vendor-implemented cell phone spyware discovered recently on a number of handsets from multiple manufacturers. Read on for more. More →
Class action lawsuits have been filed against Samsung, HTC and Carrier IQ. Carrier IQ has been in the spotlight after a security expert revealed that its software is installed on millions of smartphones and may be spying on users. Sprint and AT&T have both admitted to using the application, and other carriers likely use similar services, but both carriers have denied taking advantage of the software’s ability to spy on customers. The class action lawsuits are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of all U.S. residents, paidContent said Friday. Read on for more. More →
Senator Al Franken, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on privacy, technology and law, sent a letter to Carrier IQ on Thursday asking the company to address a number of concerns that have arisen after security expert Trevor Eckhart revealed the software might allow wireless carriers to spy on customers. “I am very concerned by recent reports that your company’s software — preinstalled on smartphones used by millions of Americans — is logging and may be transmitting extraordinarily sensitive information from consumers’ phones,” Senator Franken wrote in his letter. Read on for more. More →
Last week, research published by security expert Trevor Eckhart pulled back the veil on Carrier IQ, a suite of what can seemingly be described as spyware pre-installed on a wide range of devices by both carriers and vendors. Eckhart cited a BGR story from September as an early reference to the software, which at that time was thought to be a somewhat benign set of quality-control measures. “Carrier IQ is used to understand what problems customers are having with our network or devices so we can take action to improve service quality,” a Sprint spokesperson told BGR in September. “It collects enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to devise solutions to use and connection problems. We do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool.” But Eckhart’s interest was piqued. Read on for more.
UPDATE: Sprint and several vendors have issued statements regarding Carrier IQ, which have been added below. More →