On December 1st, I wrote a story titled, “Your Smartphone Is Spying on You.” In that story I discussed a controversial software discovered to be in millions of smartphones. The software is called “Carrier IQ Software” and has the ability to track your phone activity, including text messages.
After coming under fire, Sprint recently announced it is disabling this software from their phones, along with AT&T and T-Mobile, who were using Carrier IQ’s controversial key-logging software. Sprint now says it is “disabling the use” of software from customer’s phones.
In a statement by Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge, she said, “We have weighed customer concerns and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected.” “We are further evaluating options regarding this diagnostic software as well as Sprint’s diagnostic needs.”
Carrier IQ has also come under fire over the past several weeks after an independent researcher discovered the software can track the activities of phone users, including text messages. Carrier IQ says its software is used only to help with network diagnostics.
Personally, I am grateful to this researcher for discovering this software and making the public aware of it as well as to those in Congress who are investigating this suspicious software and pressuring cell phone providers for answers.
Sprint, whose software is on 141 million cellphones around the country, claims this software does not track user activity. The company said that its software “does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS (text) messages, email, photographs, audio or video. For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen.”
The use of the software has already resulted in some lawsuits over alleged violation of federal wiretap laws and government attention on privacy violations. On Dec. 2, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Carrier IQ for violating the privacy rights of millions of mobile phone users and expressed concern that the practices of Carrier IQ are possibly unfair or deceptive. “I have serious concerns about the Carrier IQ software and whether it is secretly collecting user’s personal information, such as the content of text messages,” said Markey, co-chairman of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus. “Consumers and families need to understand who is siphoning off and storing their personal information every time they use their smartphone.”
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, also has similar concerns. He has asked for more detailed information about Carrier IQ’s software from the company, as well as from Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. Verizon Wireless says it does not use Carrier IQ software.
In response to Franken’s request for information, Sprint said in a Dec. 14 letter that it has used Carrier IQ’s software since 2006, and that it was on 26 million Sprint devices.
“However, the Carrier IQ software tool does not collect any information unless it is ‘tasked’ to do so by Sprint,” the company said in the letter.” At any one time, only 1.3 million devices may be tasked to collect and report data. In fact, for any particular research request, a subset of a much smaller number of devices, approximately 30,000, are queried to respond to a research request from Sprint personnel.”
Earlier this week, a Carrier IQ executive told the Associated Press that the FBI previously approached the company about using its technology but was turned away. The disclosure came a day after FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress that agents “neither sought nor obtained any information” from Carrier IQ.
This must be some pretty sophisticated software if the FBI is interested in utilizing it.
If you want your smartphone evaluated and “debugged,” MSI Detective Services provides this service.
Read full story@ msnbc
Other sources: The Washington Post@ washingtonpost