CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

Summary: CarrierIQ is snooping on many smartphone owners in the U. S., and the carriers are likely paying them to do so.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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If you follow the mobile tech news you have heard about the CarrierIQ situation. A smart fellow who knows how to snoop inside the workings of smartphones uncovered a service from CarrierIQ that is recording everything you do on your smartphone and passes that on to somewhere in the cloud. This snooping was shown to cover every aspect of use on CarrierIQ-enabled phones, even recording keystrokes in text messages.

A natural outrage followed the uncovering of CarrierIQ and what it is doing behind our backs, especially given the demonstration that it can't be disabled by the phone owner. Turning off permission to do snooping doesn't disable what CarrierIQ is doing on the sly. Carriers have been quick to step up and deny using CarrierIQ on their phones to distance themselves from the uproar.

Carriers know that the class-action lawsuits are no doubt going to be filed shortly by outraged customers. There are meetings no doubt happening in glass towers with attorneys champing at the bit to get filing. Customers don't like any company snooping on them, and the level CarrierIQ is carrying it is even worse than expected.

The coverage of the CarrierIQ debacle is centered around the app that is recording the information, as if that is the culprit. Fact is this is just the vehicle to deliver a service that the CarrierIQ company sells to carriers. That's right, carriers pay CarrierIQ to record all of this information to help them troubleshoot network problems that might be caused by individual handset model. It is a legitimate service carried far too deeply. According to experts the recording of text messages may even violate U. S. wiretapping laws. We might see some criminal suits in addition to the civil suits getting ready to fly.

Neither CarrierIQ nor the carriers were willing to talk about this mess, but visiting the CarrierIQ web site clearly details what they do and for whom. Their service is aimed directly at the carriers, and it is obvious they don't provide it for free. That means every carrier with phones using CarrierIQ, and it sound like many of them in the U. S., have a contract with the company to do the snooping for the troubleshooting. If you follow the money it starts with the carrier, and when proof of this leaks out the lawsuits are going to grow teeth.

Everyone in the loop is quick to point out that this deep level snooping is anonymous and can't compromise individual privacy. This one statement on the CarrierIQ site tends to differ with that claim (emphasis mine):

What's more, the combination of the MSIP and IQ Insight lets you move seamlessly from broad trend data across many users, through comparative groups down to diagnostic data from individual devices. Now, not only can you identify trends, you have the power to drill down to specific instances, giving you the insight your specialists need to make a difference. That is the power of Mobile Service Intelligence.

I doubt that any company wanted to actually snoop on its customers. Maybe I am naive but the legal exposure to doing so is not in any company's interest. I envision the engineers at CarrierIQ deciding to record as much user activity as possible so the carrier's experts would have it just in case. The carrier's experts probably don't realize what all of this information recorded by CarrierIQ is, nor do they even look at it.

Ignorance is no excuse, however, and both CarrierIQ and any carrier using its service are now in deep water. This is not going to blow over, as the level of snooping is just too great and folks are already too outraged. That in turn creates the perfect storm for the lawsuits to begin, and federal agencies to begin investigating this whole situation. Then the carriers paying for the service will turn against CarrierIQ to defend themselves, and it is going to get incestuous and nasty. Like the CarrierIQ service, this will end up being all about money. It usually does.

Topic: Mobility

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  • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

    "I doubt that any company wanted to actually snoop on its customers."<br><br>Then why the strong threats and demands against the reporter when he reported his discovery? Why not just say "yeah, it's there, but its not for snooping it's for support and enhancements" like they're claiming now? Sounds like a cover-up, and there's no need to cover up legit business practices.
    I like coffee.
    • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

      @I like coffee.
      +a trillion.
      Ram U
      • Though they could not really claim that amount of private data to be for ..

        @Rama.NET: ... "support and enhancements".

        So they decided to cover-up by threatening the guy, rather than try to admit to this severe crime.
        dderss
      • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

        @Rama.NET And you still think Google and no one else is snooping? Time to wake up.
        holyterror
    • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

      @I like coffee. Because the class action lawsuits will cost the carriers millions of dollars in lawyer fees and costs associated with the de rigueur issuance of '$4 off your next phone' coupons to the aggrieved customers.
      ejhonda
    • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

      "I doubt that any company wanted to actually snoop on its customers." YES, you are naive for thinking that. Google has been doing this for years (perhaps not to the level of CarrierIQ) but Google collects too much data in the name of targeted advertising. When did we become so complacent to allow these companies to invade our privacy at will. When did our so-called representatives become pawns for corporations and pushing corporate agendas ahead of what best for America and the American People?

      Thomas Jefferson said when the government no longer functions it's time for a revolution. I say that time has come!!
      Masari.Jones
    • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

      @I like coffee. I agree completely, if they had nothing to hide they wouldnt threaten a lawsuit to try to cover it up.
      Jimster480
    • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

      @I like coffee.

      Every Lawyers first impulse is to threaten. If it can be easily squelched without having to actually file anything, they the client wins.

      Sometimes it backfires. That's what happened here.
      YetAnotherBob
  • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

    Now you know how the Carriers can find out if you are tethering without a tethering plan. Now you know that the carrier can actually tell if you are actually having problems with your phone. Now you know and guess what. It is nothing new.
    kg4icg
  • I'd still be interested...

    To see exactly what information it is sending back home.

    The videos I've seen just use USB Debug mode and don't monitor the data sent out "to the cloud" - heck the phone was in Flight mode, when it was supposed to transmitting its data! It is a shame such a tool is spreading this misinformation. I hope somebody who actually knows what they are doing will clarify the situation.
    wright_is
    • Good points, I'm sure this will come out over the next few weeks

      @wright_is
      psquared007
    • Makes me want to stay in Flight Mode.

      @wright_is
      invmgr
  • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

    And it uses my data plan to do that? I want some of that money back!
    flash777
  • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

    Phone diagnostics to help get crash reports is fine. The way CarrierIQ implemented this is the worst possible way to do it. This should have been an opt-in software for people with phone issues. If their phone is constantly crashing then enable it for diagnostic data and have it record some information. Take it to the local carrier so they can download the data and analyze. They do not need to record txt messages or browser links. That is just wrong.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

      @Loverock Davidson- Lovey, this is the first time I've been able to respond to a post of yours w/o calling BS.
      Congrats - I knrw you could do it!
      radleym
  • Depending on how this unfolds....

    wright_is is right on point.

    Someone should investigate and report what information - if any - is actually leaving the phone.

    IF the information in the video is being transmitted to Carrier IQ and the cellular carriers, then the privacy lawsuits will have legs. Carrier IQ will be hit the hardest and may not survive... though the cellular carriers may be most at fault, they will escape the class actions under their mandatory arbitration provisions (you can thank the US supreme court for that).

    and the next news story will be the class action lawsuits filed today...
    consumerESQ
  • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

    And you have to wonder how much of that data is being shared with 3-letter agencies... AT&T's previous willingness to collaborate with the NSA isn't a good omen.
    rogeraaa5
    • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

      @roger@...
      +5000 and give the man a cigar!
      This will allow Congress and it's PIPA and SOPA to hurt everybody.
      Sceptical Observer
    • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

      @roger@... <br>The "Patriot Act" gives the US Federal Government the right to monitor anything passing over the internet so no "collaboration" is required. I also have to wonder how long it will take divorce attorneys to subpoena message content and GPS tracking data from specific phones.
      Smedley54
      • RE: CarrierIQ: Follow the money and it is the carriers behind it

        @Smedley54
        The "Patriot Act", is, of course, only US local law. Where does the USA get off monitoring international phone traffic? How bloody arrogant!
        arthurtoms