Carrier IQ Meets With FCC, FTC About Keystroke Logging Allegations

Executives from Carrier IQ met with officials from the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission this week to discuss allegations that the company's software can be used to snoop on users.

The talks -- first reported on Wednesday by the Washington Post -- mark the latest development in the controversy that has surrounded Carrier IQ since last month, when researcher Trevor Eckhart posted a video showing how the company's software can log keystrokes. Carrier IQ's software currently is installed in around 150 million phones.

Carrier IQ confirmed that it met with government officials, but reportedly denied being the subject of an official investigation.

Regardless of the semantics, some consumer advocates expressed approval of the government's involvement. “We’re pleased that both the FCC and the FTC are looking into this issue. Cellphone users have a right to know who may be watching them when they use their devices -- and what is being done with their data,” Free Press policy director Matt Wood said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the company acknowledged in a 19-page report that its software sometimes logs the contents of messages, but said that the data is encoded. Carrier IQ characterized the logging as a bug. “In some unique circumstances, such as when a user receives an SMS during a call, or during a simultaneous data session, SMS messages may have unintentionally been included in the... traffic that is collected by the IQ Agent,” the company said in its paper, released on Monday. Those messages “are not human readable,” according to Carrier IQ.

The company also offered an explanation for the keystroke logging shown in Eckhart's video: “Location, key presses, SMS and other information appears in log files as a result of debug messages from pre-production handset manufacturer software. Specifically it appears that the handset manufacturer software’s debug capabilities remained 'switched on' in devices sold to consumers,” the company said.


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