Carrier IQ Controversy: Your Phone Is Spying On You, And Your Wireless Carrier's To Blame

Brad Chacos

Have you heard about that nasty little bit of software called Carrier IQ? A security researcher by the name of Trevor Eckhart discovered the mysterious software running on his Android phone earlier this month, dug deeper into things, and found Carrier IQ , a monitoring program that comes preinstalled on several phones, tracks all kinds of data – including HTTP requests, GPS location and app usage information – and in many cases, can’t be turned off. Millions of phones are affected. Carrier IQ’s been found on phones from Samsung, HTC and Apple– but wireless carriers could be the real force behind the rootkit-like software.

Carrier IQ has been found on a bunch of HTC phones, and when ZDNET – who is maintaining an excellently updated article on which companies are using Carrier IQ, and which aren’t – asked them about it, HTC basically fingered the blame at wireless providers.

Carrier IQ is required on devices by a number of U.S carriers so if consumers or media have any questions about the practices relating to, or data collected by, Carrier IQ we’d advise them to contact their carrier .

Well, that sucks. Which companies, exactly, are among those “number of U.S. carriers” that force smartphone manufacturers to include Carrier IQ? Again, ZDNet has the answer. AT&T and Sprint have both owned up to using data provided by Carrier IQ to “improve wireless network and service performance” and “understand device performance,” respectively. Apple also said they include Carrier IQ in the iPhone, although they say they “stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update.”

On the other hand, Verizon Wireless, RIM, Nokia, Google and Microsoft have all come out and said flat-out that they have no affiliation whatsoever with Carrier IQ, either the company or the software. T-Mobile has yet to comment on the situation.

In related news, Senator Al Franken is demanding that Carrier IQ (the company) fork over details about the program, and a class-action lawsuit has been filed against HTC, Samsung and Carrier IQ in Missouri earlier today .

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