Apple questioned by German authorities over Carrier IQ software

Summary:German regulators have written to Apple to ask how the company uses Carrier IQ mobile tracking technology.

German data protection authorities have asked Apple to answer questions pertaining to the use of the 'mobile intelligence' Carrier IQ software in its iOS-powered smartphones.

The Bavarian State Authority for Data Protection has written to Apple to request information it has on the software, Bloomberg reports.

"We read the press about the privacy concerns the software may post, and decided to ask Apple about the details. If Apple decided to cease use [of the software], all the better", Thomas Kranig, head of the office said.

Apple confirmed that it had used the software in previous instalments of its iOS operating system, but no longer uses it in iOS 5. The Cupertino giant also confirmed that a fix would be issued soon to remove any trace of the software in previous releases.

Germany is thought to have the strongest data protection laws in Europe; even stronger than other member states, where the 1995 Data Protection Directive dictates the basic principles of data protection and privacy.

Last month, German authorities accused Facebook of tracking users' cancelled user accounts, as regulators at a European Union level added further pressure to the social networking giant in the face of a series of privacy concerns.

While UK mobile networks have been quick off the mark to confirm that their networks, or the phones they sell or supply to customers to the best of their knowledge do not contain the mobile tracking technology, many U.S. networks have and still do use Carrier IQ.

AT&T, the largest cellular network in the United States, along with Sprint, both confirmed last night that the software is used to "improve wireless network and service performance", but that ti did not track user data. Sprint also used the software to "understand device performance" to determine when issues are occurring.

Senator Al Franken wrote an open letter to the president and chief executive of Carrier IQ, demanding answers to claims made by the researcher who discovered the extent of the mobile phone tracking technology.

Related:

Topics: Data Centers, Apple, Data Management, Mobility, Software, Storage

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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