Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

Summary: As the Carrier IQ phone tracking controversy continues, cell networks and mobile phone manufacturers speak out to confirm or deny its presence. Are you affected?

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TOPICS: Mobility, Telcos
35

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.

As users are warned and given the necessary skills to find and clean out each and every smartphone, and as Washington jumps in on the action,

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.

In a statement:

"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 affected

Apple 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 Android

Taiwanese 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' use

Cellular 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 software

Mobile 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 tracking

BlackBerry 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 fray

Major 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 comment

T-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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Topics: Mobility, Telcos

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35 comments
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  • RIM may not have this carrier IQ

    But its blackberry desktop software is no better. It is in registry run entry, it is in user profile start folder, it is also in msconfig autorun. Even I uninstalled it, deleted from all these places, this thing still pop-up.
    ZenithY
    • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

      @ZenithY if you uninstalleed it correctly you wouldnt have those problems. I had it on my computer for a while because of a friend and i disabled it from ever running with a few simple clicks. Now I uninstalled it and its gone.
      Jimster480
  • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

    windows phone 7 is the only OS that doesnt have this software. isnt ur statement that iphone doesnt have this software is false? per ur report, apple said "...will remove it completely in a future software update". doesnt it mean they have it now and they will remove it in the future? would they have removed it had this not become an issue. apple's statement is more like "protect-its-ass" statement. weather apple has accessed the user's data will be know when US justice department investigates them.

    android is the worst offender.
    liberalrepublican
    • Reading is fundamental

      @liberalrepublican
      Zack clearly repeated Apple's claim that <b>iOS5</b> does not contain CIQ software. Not every 'iDevice' runs iOS5 so you are correct that some Apple devices still have the software. You are wrong in asserting that anyone claimed all iPhones to be free of the software. Read it again.
      use_what_works_4_U
    • no no and no

      @liberalrepublican
      how is it not being in ios5, which has been out awhile, covering their ass?

      rim doesn't include it so ms isn't the only os.

      android doesn't include it, the carriers and manufacturers do.
      oneleft
      • So much FUD

        @oneleft

        As of the moment:
        The person/group who found CIQ SAY
        1. is on Android
        2. is on iOS
        3. is on RIM
        4. is not on Win7+

        The OEM's / OS Owners say:
        1. is on Android by carrier (ATT/Sprint yes, Vz no, TMo tbd)
        2. is no longer active with iOS5 (still exists on pre 5)
        3. is not on RIM (need verification at handset level)
        4. is not on MS

        What did I miss?

        I do know it is on my Skyrocket (grrrrr )
        rhonin
    • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

      @liberalrepublican

      What's ur ?
      Chipesh
  • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

    What a lie:
    "Some major players have yet to respond. Google, arguably at the center of this storm, has yet to comment, even though the Carrier IQ software remains an integral yet hidden part of its operating system."

    Carrier IQ is NOT an integral part of Android.
    tatiGmail
    • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

      @tatiGmail

      Hey, sensation sells. Why write the truth when you can linkbait by twisting it?

      But you're right. Obviously the "Carrier IQ software" is not in any way a part of the operating system Android..... because its, duh, SOFTWARE.
      wendellgee2
    • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

      @tatiGmail google has to respond to the allegations. it will be like wifi scandal. first they said they would never do such a thing. then they changed the story when investigation began. they said it was a test code that went into production. then they said they collected bits and pieces. then they said they collected many gigs.

      google is an ad company. it may be thinking about the best way to phrase their statement just like apple.
      liberalrepublican
      • Google could fix this

        I think Google would score a big plus if they released software to remove this app from Android phones.

        ---
        Sarbanes Oxley prevents fraudulant company accounting.
        guihombre
      • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

        @guihombre I agree, that would be great if Google did that.

        ---
        Sarbanes Oxley is partially responsible for the Greatest Recession.
        Hameiri
    • no one has asked the police if they access this data

      @tatiGmail
      when they arrest you, or if there's an app that would allow viewing of the material any other way than having access to the port on the phone. I believe that under the provisions of the "Patriot" act that they don't even need a warrant to search your phone, so occupy protesters beware!
      sparkle farkle
    • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

      @tatiGmail
      Google does not support other people's spyware willingly. Android is designed to spy on its users for Google, and for no one else. Without spying on its users, Google could not exist.
      jorjitop
  • Canadian networks chime in too

    None of the big-3 Canadian carriers, nor their no-contract sub-brands use CarrierIQ. I would imagine that not a lot of carriers outside of the US would, since the data would be open to the discretion (and lack thereof) of the US Patriot Act.

    I'm still glad I got a Windows Phone.

    BTW: If HTC says they have nothing to do with CarrierIQ, why is there an agent program with their name and logo on it on the apps loading screen shown in the video? The CarrierIQ CEO also said they don't record keystrokes and websites, and yet the logs proved otherwise. Why did he lie? Who else is not telling the truth for that matter?
    Joe_Raby
    • Doesn't anyone actually read anymore?!

      @Joe_Raby
      As noted above, the <i>carriers</i> require that they load this software. HTC doesn't on their own. They are, in fact, admitting that they install this software at the behest of the carriers. Their only denial is that HTC itself is a customer of CIQ or has any direct relationship with them. That's true. The relationships are CIQ to carrier and carrier to HTC. Get it?
      use_what_works_4_U
  • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

    Good post, Zack. Thanks.
    Ricardo Bilton
    • RE: Which phones, networks run Carrier IQ mobile tracking software?

      @Ricardo Bilton Not quite; there is misinformation, as cited above, and the post has ...
      @Ricardo Bilton: ... additional problems:

      1) Apple did not confirm it uses it: they said that the service is not turned on by default and even if it is on the scope of information gathered has nothing to do with privacy concerns -- totally different story from what happening on HTC, Samsung, LG, etc phones;

      2) Zack claims Samsung is the leading manufacturer of smartphones in USA -- what is blatantly incorrect. The link he offers does not contain that information.
      dderss
      • Half truth at best

        @dderss

        read Apple's statement again.
        They said as of iOS5 they no longer use it and the user can opt in.
        Versions prior to 5 have it with no opt clause.
        If it is an optional opt-in for 5 and is not being used, why is it there?

        :|
        rhonin
  • Room 641A

    So in essence the only ones we know about are USA and carriers like AT&T. This reminds me of "Room 641A".

    The software intercepts handset usage, videos played, SMS data, URL's, keystrokes, numbers dialed, as they (CarrierIQ) claim even OFFLINE usage. Which necessarily has nothing to do with online network use. Thus the claim doesn't cover the evidence.

    Plus network data is available directly from the network anyway, so it must be there for more than network diagnostics. Other networks derive it from the network too.
    guihombre