T-Mobile and Motorola are in line for involvement too, because they have a little time to explain themselves until Dec. 20. About three weeks ago, Trevor Eckhart, the security researcher, posted a video (that you can watch at the end of this post) about Carrier IQ software, installed at nearly 150 million smartphones. In this video he demonstrates that this software secretly collects a lot of information about users’ activities without them even know about it.
Last week senator Al Franken asked two carriers to explain him their usage of Carrier IQ software. Those carriers are AT&T and Sprint, which both declared that the usage of Carrier IQ software was stated in their privacy policies. AT&T’s executive VP for federal relations Timothy McKone wrote that they collect network, usage and performance from their network and customer used devices, and that information is used to maintain and improve their network and wireless experience of the users.
Al Franken is very troubled about the matter and the answers of mobile carriers did not calm him down. He stated that people have the fundamental rights and one of them is to control all their private information by themselves. After reading the companies’ responses he thinks that this right is not respected because the average user does not know that the Carrier IQ software is running on his or her smartphone, what data it collects and where all this data goes then.
And that is a real problem.
Samsung and HTC also wrote letters with their answers to Al Franken. They said that they are not receiving any data from Carrier IQ software and that they installed it at the behest of mobile carriers. Eckhart’s video shows that every Google search, phone number and text message typed on your smartphone are logged by Carrier IQ software. AT&T said that this is untrue and that they collect only sent and received numbers. Sprint said that they are not logging phone numbers but only website URLs visited by their customers and to troubleshoot software malfunctions.
Carrier IQ company stated that this was just a bug which accidentally sent SMS to such carriers as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, yet this was happening in rare cases like simultaneous phone call and SMS incoming. They have also said that other types of mobile content like emails, photos, MMS, web pages, audio and video data were not captured, logged or tracked anyhow.
There is also the information that the data collected by Carrier IQ software which has not been received by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, HTC, Samsung or any other mobile carrier was delivered directly to the FBI. Robert Mueller, the FBI Director, stated that the bureau has never tried to get the information collected by the Carrier IQ software yet mentioned that they could receive the controversial information from wireless carriers through requests.
And now, here is the promised video:
Wow! That’s huge, huh? How do you think, do mobile carriers, Carrier IQ and FBI are connected together in this case? If yes, then how? And who is in charge there? Don’t lie up and join the conversation in the comments below!