There’s a scandal brewing in the American wireless industry right now surrounding a company called Carrier IQ. All this hullabaloo began when an Android developer by the name of Trevor Eckhart discovered that there was something on his Android device logging just about damn near everything he was doing on his phone and then sending it to Carrier IQ. By damn near everything we mean who he was calling, who was calling him, what keys he was pressing, what searches he was performing, when he turned his phone off, when he turned his phone on. Everything. Worse yet, he couldn’t turn off Carrier IQ and soon found out that it automatically started up whenever he freshly booted his device. People began wondering which operators and handset vendors makers are using this app to collect data? Turns out that practically every Android phone on the American market has Carrier IQ onboard, even the iPhone. The only devices that don’t ship with Carrier IQ are smartphones made by Nokia and any device in the Nexus lineup.
This has Senator Al Franken, Chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and Law, pretty pissed. He penned a letter to Carrier IQ, which you can read in full on his website, demanding answers to his various questions about their application by the 14th of December. Carrier IQ responded to this immediately by saying that they’re just a software house, it’s the companies that purchase and use their software that should be questioned. Senator Franken acknowledged Carrier IQ’s point and basically sent the same letter he initially sent to Carrier IQ to AT&T, HTC, Samsung, and Sprint Nextel, again with the same December 14th deadline.
What’s the lesson here? There is none, really. Operators know what you’re doing and where you are at all times, regardless of whether or not they use Carrier IQ. Your ISP knows every single website you visit. Laws are there to prevent the misuse of this data and people just have to hope that operators and ISPs take the law seriously.
If they don’t, then they deserve to be punished. Simple as that.
Update 01: If you know of any Carrier IQ sighings outside the United States, please leave a comment below!
Update 02: “O2, Three, and Vodafone in the UK, and Rogers in Canada, have all announced that the software [Carrier IQ] is not present on any of the devices they sell.” — The Verge