Update (16:42): Added "European networks chime in to the fray". Update (18:55): Google talks, at long last. See below.
As the Carrier IQ controversy continues, mobile carriers and phone manufacturers, along with mobile operating system builders are coming out in droves in a bid to engage in internal disaster management strategies.
Trevor Eckhart only a week ago published a video to show how Carrier IQ's 'rootkit' software collects personal information, location data and just about everything the user does on their device to YouTube.
Since then, the developers at Carrier IQ withdrew a copyright infringement accusation after it had threatened legal action against the researcher, after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an Internet civil rights group, jumped to his defence.
Tens of millions, perhaps more, are affected. It is not yet clear whether European citizens are affected by this developing controversy.
In the past few hours, there have been a number of statements from various sources either confirming the use of Carrier IQ in their phones or applied by networks.
Google denies any 'affiliation with Carrier IQ'The search giant turned Android ecosystem giant spoke to reporters today, after it was confirmed that Nexus devices do not include the software. Google responded, and distanced itself from the tracking software company.
"We do not have an affiliation with CarrierIQ. Android is an open source effort and we do not control how carriers or OEMs customize their devices".
OEMs and Android handsets, however, could still be affected. But Google affirms that it is not it who installs the software on Android-running or capable devices.
Apple confirms its use; iOS 5 not affectedApple made a rare public statement to AllThingsD saying that while it once had used Carrier IQ's network diagnostic software in the past, it was removed in the latest iOS 5 mobile operating system.
"We stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update.
With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so."
Apple also said that it would remove any trace of the tracking software in a future update for older devices running iOS 4.
HTC, Samsung confirm tracking in AndroidTaiwanese smartphone giant HTC confirmed that it runs the mobile tracking software "as a requirement" by some U.S. carriers. In a statement, it said:
"Carrier IQ is required on devices by a number of U.S carriers so if consumers or media have any questions about the practices relating to, or data collected by, Carrier IQ we’d advise them to contact their carrier.
It is important to note that HTC is not a customer or partner of Carrier IQ and does not receive data from the application, the company, or carriers that partner with Carrier IQ. HTC is investigating the option to allow consumers to opt-out of data collection by the Carrier IQ application."
Samsung, the most popular smartphone manufacturer in the United States, and purveyor of many Android smartphones, also confirmed that it integrates Carrier IQ into its products; also at the request of carriers. It did not however divulge which handsets carry the software.
AT&T, Sprint confirm 'network diagnostic' useCellular network giants AT&T and Sprint both admitted that they both use Carrier IQ software.
AT&T, the largest network in the U.S. said that it used the software to: "improve wireless network and service performance", but stated clearly that it did not track users' data.
Sprint also uses the handset tracking software. In a statement to MSNBC, it said that the software helps network performance and helps the company improve service. Adding:
"We also use the data to understand device performance so we can figure out when issues are occurring. 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.
Though Sprint does make it clear that "information collected is not sold", adding that it will not "provide a direct feed of this data to anyone outside of Sprint".
Verizon denies using tracking softwareMobile giant Verizon said via spokesperson Debi Lewis, in a short, sharp statement that:
"Reports about Verizon using Carrier IQ are false. Verizon Wireless does not add Carrier IQ to our phones, and the reports we have seen about Verizon using Carrier IQ are false".
With tens of millions of subscribers in the United States, this should be enough to satisfy the customers of one of the U.S.' largest cellular networks.
Research in Motion, Nokia, Microsoft deny handset trackingBlackBerry maker Research in Motion said that it does not use the Carrier IQ tracking software in its applications, its phone's hardware or its operating systems:
"RIM does not pre-install the CarrierIQ app on BlackBerry smartphones or authorize its carrier partners to install the CarrierIQ app before sales or distribution. RIM also did not develop or commission the development of the CarrierIQ application, and has no involvement in the testing, promotion, or distribution of the app.”
Nokia also categorically denied that the tracking software is used in its devices. Spokesperson Mark Durrant said:
"CarrierIQ does not ship products for any Nokia devices, so reports that they have been found on Nokia phones are wrong".
In a statement sent to ZDNet columnist Mary Jo Foley last night, Microsoft stated that: "The Windows Phone operating system does not include the Carrier IQ software".
UK networks chime in to the frayMajor UK cell networks have been adding their comments to reassure users across the UK and Europe.
O2 told PaidContent that it "doesn't collect" any information via Carrier IQ. While the Telefonica-owned cell network was reluctant to explain whether it uses any other diagnostic tools, its spokesperson pointed journalists in the direction of handset manufacturers.
Vodafone UK said that it "does not use Carrier IQ in any of its businesses", adding that it does not use any other software like it. The company said that it strictly adheres to privacy regulations in the jurisdictions where it operates, including Europe, which has some of the strongest data protection laws in the world.
Vodafone Portugal said that it had a trial of the service in 2009, but since ended its relationship with Carrier IQ.
France Telecom-owned Orange painted a similar story, noting that whether or not Carrier IQ has been added to handsets on its network, the company does not validate it, or any other diagnostic services similar to it.
T-Mobile have yet to commentT-Mobile has yet to respond to the controversy. As one of the largest networks in the U.S., we wait with bated breath as to whether tens of millions of customers have had their personal information invaded as a result of this sophisticated, deep-rooted tracking software.
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- CNET Special Report: Carrier IQ: How big a threat is it?