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HTC responds to allegations that its phones are spying on users

Zach Epstein
September 2nd, 2011 at 5:01 PM

HTC on Friday responded to user allegations that at least two of its smartphones, the HTC Sensation and the HTC EVO 3D, spy on users. BGR reported on Thursday that a new Android software update issued to these two handsets included tweaks that cause the OS to log users’ behavior. As discovered by InfectedROM forum member TrevE, Carrier IQ and four other processes in Android 2.3.4 purportedly gather usage stats and transmit them in the background. HTC has confirmed to BGR that these functions are all tied to an opt-in service however, and the Taiwan-based firm says it is not spying on anyone. Read on for more.

HTC confirmed to BGR that all of the data collected by the devices in question is encrypted, and any identifying data is stripped prior to transmission. Moreover, the vendor insists that the data collected by the processes in question is only sent to HTC if the user has previously opted in to an error reporting feature. “HTC, like most manufacturers, has an opt-in error reporting function built in to our devices,” an HTC spokesperson said in a statement delivered to BGR via email. “If your phone experiences an error, you have the option of ‘Telling HTC’ so we can make improvements to our phones. Details about this are in our privacy policy on each device and in order for data to be collected, you have to opt-in. If you do opt-in, we protect your privacy by de-identifying and encrypting the data.”

The statement goes on to reassure users that any data that might be transmitted with regard to the processes discovered on InfectedROM is tied to opt-in functions. The company also notes that none of the data is used to spy on users, but rather to investigate crashes and other unexpected errors. “HTC is committed to protecting your privacy and that means a commitment to clear opt-in/opt-out as the standard for collecting any information we need to serve you better,” HTC said in its statement.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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