Carrier IQ comes under FTC and FCC scrutiny

Carrier IQ comes under FTC and FCC scrutiny

Summary: “We are complying with all investigations at this time as we have nothing to hide.”

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Federal investigators are investigating allegations that Carrier IQ software was used to track user actvity and send that information back to the carriers without user consent, according to the Washington Post.

According to the report, executives from Carrier IQ have traveled to Washington to meet with officials from the Federal Trade Commission, the government body responsible for enforcing privacy laws, as well as officials from the Federal Communications Commission. This information comes via officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Carrier IQ has confirmed that it is cooperating with federal officials.

“We are complying with all investigations at this time as we have nothing to hide,” said Mira Woods, of Carrier IQ’s marketing communications department. “We have been completely transparent through this process.”

Things are going from bad to worse for Carrier IQ. Earlier this month the tech world became aware of Carrier IQ - software installed onto millions of handsets designed to send usage and diagnostic data back to the carriers. Initially the company denied that there was anything sinister about the logging software, but it has now admitted that a bug in the software meant that SMS messages ‘may have’ been captured.

The capabilities of Carrier IQ were first bought to light by 25-year-old Trevor Eckhart.

Data leakage, whether that be deliberate or accidental, is a serious matter. It represents a breach of trust between consumer and service provider. While I can see the benefits that a tool like Carrier IQ bring to the networks and handset makers, we can’t lightly abandon privacy for the sake of a better service.

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Topics: Malware, Android, iPhone, Mobile OS, Patents, Privacy, Security, Smartphones, Software

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10 comments
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  • RE: Carrier IQ comes under FTC and FCC scrutiny

    CarrierIQ may be able to skate free on legal charges if they can show that all their software was installed wholly at the request of the providers themselves. Then it isn't technically CarrierIQ that has the duty to inform the user, it is the cell provider themselves. The public generally won't see it that way, but legally the company may be able to avoid any legal trouble.
    Ididar
    • RE: Carrier IQ comes under FTC and FCC scrutiny

      @Ididar
      Right now CarrierIQ is on the hook. They will have to proof that they have not done anything illegal.
      daikon
      • Hold on ....

        @daikon

        I hope that America has not changed so much under Obama that we have to "prove we did nothing illegal" instead of the Government proving that we did.

        But in any case, a pox on CarrierIQ and the phone companies that thought it'd be a good idea.
        wkulecz
    • The cell service providers weren't the only ones requesting this

      @Ididar
      "if they can show that all their software was installed wholly at the request of the providers themselves"

      Apple also installed it themselves deep into iOS. In fact, Apple is the only OS manufacturer to have done so.
      toddybottom
  • RE: Carrier IQ comes under FTC and FCC scrutiny

    How does one accidentally grab and upload all of your SMS data?
    Aerowind
  • Just a bug ...

    They called it 'just a bug'. What it usually is is bad/incomplete design, poor coding, and incomplete testing. What will it take to make cowboy coders and pointy haired managers realize that software is not an artform, it is an engineering problem.

    Mantra: Speed, Cost, Quality. Pick TWO.
    lars626
    • So True

      @lars626

      Sadly :(
      rhonin
  • RE: Carrier IQ comes under FTC and FCC scrutiny

    This is almost to the point of being ridiculous... It's past hilarious. You're reporting FTC and FCC scrutiny and your sister publication in the UK is reporting that Carrier IQ kept SMS messages as a result of another mistake... CARRIER IQ is LYING!! They won't tell you who their clients are... They won't disclose their code... They won't discuss their collection methods... They just keep lying and making up excuses about what they are or aren't doing.

    UNTIL THEY CAN PROVIDE PROOF, that they are not doing what Mr. Eckhart PROVED THEY ARE DOING, then they are guilty of breaking FEDERAL WIRETAP LAW. And should be prosecuted for those crimes and shut down.
    Bwinski
    • Don't just shoot the messenger

      @Bwinski

      Carrier IQ only provided the tools to the real culprits, the wireless providers. All providers who sold phones with this software installed and who, unlike Carrier IQ, are actually collecting the data should also be prosecuted.
      donniebnyc666
  • But it was manufactured or baked in to the devices.

    That means that for every transgression, there's another offender - the device maker. Who is the main offender? Is it Carrier IQ, or the manufacturer? Well, that's difficult to tell and will depend on where the spied information was going and how it was being used. I expect that within those companies, incriminating evidence will be destroyed and there will be denials all round. This could be a difficult case to investigate.
    peter_erskine@...