Apple says it has stopped supporting Carrier IQ on its devices

2 Dec 2011

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Apple recently stopped supporting the controversial Carrier IQ network diagnostic software, the company said. A furore has arisen over the use of Carrier IQ in iOS and Android smartphones to collect personal information.

Carrier IQ’s network diagnostic technology is installed on millions of smartphones around the world and is used to transmit network diagnostics to carrier networks. However, a storm of controversy has arisen over what kind of intelligence Carrier IQ sends back to the network.

In recent days, security researcher Trevor Eckhart posted a video in which he revealed that a large quantity of information can be derived from a smartphone. However, what is not truly understood is what is being done with that information.

Eckart was able to demonstrate that on HTC Android phones, for example, Carrier IQ logs every number pressed into the dialler, every search, every key typed on the keyboard, every app you open and your location.

Carrier IQ collects data that is important to network operators, such as call quality, calls dropped, message delivery, etc.

The company has refuted claims it provides more than diagnostic information. It stated: “While a few individuals have identified that there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS 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.”

Apple says it stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5

“We stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update,” Apple said in a statement.

“With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information.

“We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so,” Apple stated.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com