There have recently been reports about how smartphone users’ data could be quietly gathered and used by companies via software from a company called Carrier IQ. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), chairman of the subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote this week to Carrier IQ demanding answers about how this technology affects cellphone users’ privacy, stating “[I]t appears that Carrier IQ’s software captures a broad swath of extremely sensitive information from users that would appear to have nothing to do with diagnostics—including who they are calling, the contents of the texts they are receiving, the contents of their searches, and the websites they visit.”
Now, Carrier IQ speaks to the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D about its software:
Carrier IQ, maker of a network diagnostic tool installed on millions of smartphones, has a simple rebuttal to accusations that its software logs keystrokes on the devices on which it is installed:
While CIQ might “listen”* to a smartphone’s keyboard, it’s listening for very specific information. Company executives insist it doesn’t log or understand keystrokes. It’s simply looking for numeric sequences that trigger a diagnostic cue within the software. If it hears that cue, it transmits diagnostics to the carrier. […]
“The software receives a huge amount of information from the operating system,” Andrew Coward, Carrier IQ’s VP of marketing, told AllThingsD. “But just because it receives it doesn’t mean that it’s being used to gather intelligence about the user or passed along to the carrier.”
So what are we really seeing in security researcher Trevor Eckhart’s video, which shows Carrier IQ collecting all sorts of information about how a phone is being used and where?
“What the Eckhart video demonstrates is that there’s a great deal of information available on a handset,” says Coward. “What it doesn’t show is that all information is processed, stored, or forwarded out of the device.”
Okay. Then what information is being captured and passed along to the carriers who use Carrier IQ? Data related to call quality, battery life, device crashes — everything you’d expect, really. […]
That said, CIQ still has the ability to capture a wide variety of user data. So who is determining what exactly is being collected?
The carriers. They decide what’s to be collected and how long it’s stored — typically about 30 days. And according to Carrier IQ, the data is in their control the whole time.
Read the full story for more info from Carrier IQ about its software and the data collected about cellphone users’ activities.