Commentary

Carrier IQ Denies Spying On Users, But Questions Remain

Carrier IQ has finally addressed the snooping allegations that have been plaguing the company for the last few days.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Carrier IQ said that its software is supposed to be used to diagnose the causes of dropped calls and other service issues. “Our software allows operators to figure out why problems are occurring, why calls are dropped, and how to extend the life of the battery,” the company said.

Carrier IQ said “there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset,” but that its software doesn't “record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video.” 

But this statement doesn't resolve the concerns that emerged this week, after researcher Trevor Eckhart posted a clip that appeared to show Carrier IQ logging his individual keystrokes. That's because, even if Carrier IQ isn't recording the contents of users' communications, it still appears to be collecting that data.

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The question, then, is why the software collects that data in the first place, and whether telecoms or handset manufacturers are able to make use of it.

Rep. Al Franken (D-Minn.) today asked the CEOs of AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Samsung, and HTC to address at least some of those questions. “While I understand and acknowledge the legitimate need for diagnostics software, the data that it appears can be logged through this software appears to go beyond technical diagnostic information,” Franken wrote.

He asked the companies to answer detailed questions about what data is collected, how it is stored and whether it is ever shared with third parties.

Meantime, two potential class-action lawsuits against Carrier IQ were filed this week for allegedly violating federal wiretap laws.

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