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.
Franken noted that Carrier IQ has been accused of be keeping track of when users turn their phones on and off, what numbers users dial, message contents and more. He said he understands that carriers need to collect data to run diagnostics but that “it appears Carrier IQ’s software captures a broad swath of extremely sensitive information from users that would appear to have nothing to do with diagnostics.”
Sprint admitted to The Verge on Thursday that it, and other carriers, “use the data to understand device performance so [it] can figure out when issues are occurring,” and that it doesn’t sell the data and can not look at messages, personal photos or other private information. These sentiments mirror earlier comments the carrier gave to BGR several months ago. Sprint’s full statement follows below.
Carrier IQ provides information that allows Sprint, and other carriers that use it, to analyze our network performance and identify where we should be improving service. We also use the data to understand device performance so we can figure out when issues are occurring. We collect enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to address any connection problems, but we do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool. The information collected is not sold and we don’t provide a direct feed of this data to anyone outside of Sprint.
Senator Franken asked that Carrier IQ answer 11 questions related to its practices by December 14th.