Carrier IQ is software that has been installed on about 150 million smartphones, which tracks personal information about users. Security researcher Trevor Eckhart discover the software and posted a video about it on YouTube. People were outraged by what they saw on the video and Carrier IQ was thoroughly investigated after that.
This past week, representatives from Sprint and AT&T said that their customers should not be surprised that their activities were being tracked. They sent letters to Senator Al Franken about it. User habits being tracked was outlined in the company’s privacy policies.
AT&T said that they gave clear notice to customers. “We collect network, performance and usage information from our network and customer devices, and we use that information to maintain and improve our network and their wireless experience,” stated AT&T EVP for federal relations Timothy McKone.
Sprint and AT&T told Franken that they use Carrier IQ software to collect diagnostic information about the networks to improve customer experience. “People have a fundamental right to control their private information,” said Franken. “After reading the companies’ responses, I’m still concerned that this right is not being respected. The average user of any device equipped with Carrier IQ software has no way of knowing that this software is running, what information it is getting and who it is giving it to — and that’s a problem.”
Sprint is planning to disable Carrier IQ software on their devices according to sources. Samsung and HTC told Franken that they install Carrier IQ software on their devices because the mobile carriers tell them to. They said that they do not receive data collected by the software.
Carrier IQ collects logs of every text message, Google search, and phone numbers typed on a variety of smartphones. AT&T said that they Carrier IQ to collect phone numbers sent and received by customers. Sprint uses Carrier IQ only to colelct the URLs of websites that customers visit and only for troubleshooting.