AT&T and Sprint have confirmed that they use the controversial Carrier IQ software, which has raised concern about privacy after videos show that it can secretly track your incoming SMS messages, log keystrokes, parse encrypted HTTPS strings and more.
In a statement to TheVerge, Sprint said it does use the software for network management but it can’t look at the content of your messages.
We collect enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to address any connection problems, but we do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool. The information collected is not sold and we don’t provide a direct feed of this data to anyone outside of Sprint.
AT&T told ComputerWorld that it also uses the software for network management and that it falls in line with its privacy policies that subscribers have already agreed to. The carrier didn’t say how many of its phones have Carrier IQ but the software was found on multiple devices including handsets from Motorola, HTC, Samsung and there’s even some code in iOS.
Verizon said it doesn’t use Carrier IQ but it does collect data in other manners, although those can be opted out of. We see these privacy blowups often in the mobile space because carriers can extract an enormous amount of data from its subscribers. The thing is, that’s not always bad, as there are legitimate reasons for carriers to know some of this information to better manage its network.
But this raises issues because Carrier IQ specifically said its software doesn’t do things like keystroke logging and there’s video to prove that it does. I don’t think that the carriers knowingly used this software to spy on its subscribers but not doing its due diligence is still pretty bad. Sometimes, negligence can be as bad as malevolence.