It doesn't look as if Carrier IQ's rootkit crisis is going to blow over any time soon.
Yesterday, the company found itself at the center of a controversy after researcher Trevor Eckhart posted a video clip that appeared to show Carrier IQ logging his keystrokes on a mobile phone -- despite the company's public denials that it did so. The software apparently logs details like when people turn on and off their phones, numbers dialed, URLs visited, and searches performed -- even when encrypted.
Carrier IQ comes preinstalled on millions of phones. The only way to disable it is to install a new operating system, according to Wired.
Today, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is demanding some answers from the company. “I am very concerned by recent reports that your company’s software -- pre-installed on smartphones used by millions of Americans -- is logging and may be transmitting extraordinarily sensitive information from consumers’ phones,” he wrote in a letter to CEO Larry Lenhart. “These actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is potentially a very serious matter.”
Franken, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on privacy, asked Lenhart to respond to a series of questions, including whether it logs users' locations, telephone numbers dialed, texts, emails, sites visited or other keystroke data.
Franken additionally wants to know what type of data is transmitted to third parties, and whether the company will allow users to opt out of the keystroke logging.
Some carriers and manufacturers are now trying to distance themselves from the company. “To be 100% clear: Carrier IQ is *not* on #Verizon Wireless #VZW phones,” Verizon spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson tweeted today.
Research in Motion reportedly says it doesn't preinstall the software, according to All Things Digital.
Sprint, meanwhile, reportedly acknowledged working with Carrier IQ, but said it only does so “to analyze our network performance,” according to GigaOm. “We do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool,” the company reportedly said.
AT&T, HTC and Samsung also have admitted that their phones use the software.