The fallout following the discovery of Carrier IQ's monitoring software on millions of smartphones continues to build. European privacy officials are investigating, the company said it has not violated wiretap laws, three class-action lawsuits have been filed, and a U.S. senator wants answers.
Connecticut-based security researcher Trevor Eckhart recently posted a video showing that software from Carrier IQ, pre-installed on as many as 141 million Android, BlackBerry, and Nokia smartphones, sends text messages, searches, and other user actions to the carrier without the user's knowledge or consent. Eckhart said that "every button you press in the dialer" is sent even before a call is made, and even when the owner is using Wi-Fi and not the carrier's network.
In the furor that has erupted, some observers have suggested that federal wiretap laws may have been violated. But Mountain View, Calif.-based Carrier IQ has denied this.
In a statement on its Web site, the company said that, while there is a "great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the content of SMS messages, e-mail, photographs, audio or video." As an example, the company said that its software knows that a SMS was sent accurately, but it does not record or transmit its content.
Similarly, the company said its software knows which apps are draining the battery, but screenshots are not captured. The company has also denied that every keystroke is being collected. AT&T and Sprint Nextel issued statements Thursday that the software is used to improve service.
But some governmental officials want more information. Privacy regulators in Germany, the U.K., France, Ireland and Italy have reportedly been looking into the use of Carrier IQ by smartphones and carriers in those countries.
In the U.S., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has asked Carrier IQ for more information about what data is collected and shared. "The revelation that the locations and other sensitive data of millions of Americans are being secretly recorded and possibly transmitted is deeply troubling," he said in a news release, adding that Congress needs to act quickly to protect "private, sensitive information of consumers."
Three Class-Action Lawsuits
Initial reports indicated that the software is present on phones from HTC, Nokia, Research In Motion and Samsung. There have also been reports that references to Carrier IQ have been found in Apple's iOS 5, but it does not appear to be enabled to record keystrokes, as it is on devices from other manufacturers.
In a statement Thursday, Apple, which has been questioned about the software by German authorities, said that it had stopped supporting Carrier IQ in iOS 5 for most of its products, and will completely remove it in a future update.
Three class-action lawsuits alleging Carrier IQ violates federal wiretap laws have been filed in Chicago, St. Louis and Northern California. The lawsuits could be costly, according to Forbes, as the federal Wiretap Act provides for penalties of $100 a day or $10,000 per violation. Carrier IQ boats on its Web site that its software is on 141 million smartphones.
The Northern California suit names Samsung and HTC as well as Carrier IQ. The lawsuit contends that, contrary to Carrier IQ's statements, the software "does record keystrokes and the content of messages, and could transmit the information to third parties." It accuses the three companies of violating the federal Wiretap Act and California's Unfair Business Practice Act.
Posted: 2011-12-07 @ 11:05pm PT
This article is incorrect. Nokia have never installed this app on their phones.
A reader no more..:
Posted: 2011-12-02 @ 5:43pm PT
"Connecticut-based security researcher Trevor Eckhart recently posted a video showing that software from Carrier IQ, pre-installed on as many as 141 million Android, BlackBerry, and Nokia smartphones, sends text messages, searches, and other user actions to the carrier without the user's knowledge or consent." Let me guess Apple paid you to not mention the fact they it is also installed on EVERY iphone since iPhone 3