Two weeks ago, security researcher Trevor Eckhart posted a video on YouTube demonstrating a software called Carrier IQ that is set to automatically run in the background of his phone, even when he attempts a “Force Quit” command. More disturbing is the fact that Carrier IQ seems to be tracking location, logging keystrokes, and monitoring other information such as text messages.
The video has caused a wave of controversy, and companies such as Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Carrier IQ are facing lawsuits on behalf of mobile device users claiming violation of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Federal Wiretap Act, and the Stored Electronic Communications Act. Though Carrier IQ initially issued a cease-and-desist letter to Eckhart in an attempt to silence him and make him renounce his accusations, the company has since issued a statement that insists its software “does not record, store, or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video.” The statement, which some feel is either too little too late or a flat-out lie, goes on to explain that Carrier IQ “makes your phone better by delivering intelligence on the performance of mobile devices and networks to help the operators provide optimal service efficiency.”
In a recent development, Forbes released a story speculating that the FBI may be using Carrier IQ software for law enforcement purposes. This stemmed from the FBI’s decision to deny a Freedom of Information request filed by a blogger looking for answers.
On December 12, Carrier IQ issued another press statement that further explains the Carrier IQ technology, the information available to mobile network operators, and recent issues raised by Trevor Eckhart. Carrier’s CEO Larry Lenhart and VP of Marketing Andrew Coward also sat down with John Paczkowski of allthingsd.com to elaborate on the most recent statement.
Has the situation been blown out of proportion, or should mobile device users fear that Carrier truly is tracking their every action? Should the public be satisfied with the answers provided, or are there other issues at stake? Regardless of the outcome, it seems the situation has raised legitimate concerns regarding technology and privacy rights, and the ultimate resolution of this case will be interesting to witness.
Still interested? Here are videos and articles to check out about the ongoing Carrier IQ debacle.
Trevor Eckhart’s video revealing the Carrier IQ software on his Android: Eckhart YouTube Video
This Engadget.com article lays out a clear picture of Eckhart’s concerns, Carrier IQ’s intial reactions, and the software itself. Engadget also links to Eckhart’s YouTube video and a video of Carrier CEO Larry Lenhart: Engadget article
Carrier IQ’s December 1 statement regarding the capabilities and intent of its software can be found on their website: Carrier IQ Press Statement – December 1
Carrier IQ’s follow-up statement on December 12 detailing the Carrier IQ software functions and “Recently Discussed Issues”: Carrier IQ Press Statement – December 12
John Paczkowski (allthingsd.com) interview Carrier IQ’s CEO Larry Lenhart and VP of Marketing Andrew Coward: Carrier IQ Interview
ExtremeTech provides an article on how to detect and remove Carrier IQ: Carrier IQ – which phones are infected and how to remove it
Mashable.com has compiled several informative blog posts tracking the issues raised about Carrier IQ: Mashable Topics – Carrier IQ
Ken Ray of Mac Observer offers a summary of the lawsuits and his thoughts on the issues Carrier IQ is now facing: Mac Observer blog
Added 12/16: This Q&A site for IT security professionals answers questions that many readers might have about Carrier IQ: “What risk does Carrier IQ pose, exactly?”