Besides, thanks to white hat hacker Trevor Eckhart's video we already knew that Carrier IQ's rootkit was grabbing an amazing amount of private information. Coward explains though that "What it [Eckhart's video] doesn't show is that all information is processed, stored, or forwarded out of the device."
OK, then why is it being collected if it's not to be processed, stored, or forwarded? I mean I'm a former network administrator, I get why carriers want to know about why calls are dropped, why a text goes missing into the ether and so on. What I don't get is why, for example, Carrier IQ or a carrier is collecting a text's content.
Carrier IQ swears that "We don't read SMS [short message service, aka texts] messages. We see them come in. We see the phone numbers attached to them. But, we are not storing, analyzing or otherwise processing the contents of those messages." Again, then why are you collecting their contents in the first place?
The company has an "explanation" for that: It's the carriers' fault. In a recently revised statement, Carrier IQ explains now that "Carrier IQ acts as an agent for the Operators. Each implementation is different and the diagnostic information actually gathered is determined by our customers - the mobile Operators. Carrier IQ does not gather any other data from devices."
They're right of course. For all that Carrier IQ is taking most of the fire, they are delivering a service to the carriers and phone original equipment manufacturers. (OEM)s. In specific, if the carriers hadn't asked for it, neither Carrier IQ nor the OEMs would be delivering this data to them. Of course, following orders is far from a perfect defense.
Why is everyone running so fast from Carrier IQ's data collecting ways? Is it because Senator Sen. Al Franken has come down on them like a ton of bricks by demanding to know whether the data is transmitted back to the developer company, or handed over to third-parties, and whether the privacy rights of American consumers has been violated? I doubt it. No, the real reason they're retreating like a kid from a broken window is that Carrier IQ and its carrier--AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile--and OEM--Apple, HTC and Samsung--partners are already seeing the first class-action suits against them.
In the end, it doesn't matter how Carrier IQ and partners spin this, all of them will end up paying hundreds of millions in damages before this is done. Yes, detailed network analysis has its place, collecting and transmitting personal private information without explicit permission is both wrong and illegal.