US Govt to probe Carrier IQ smartphone logging claims

15 Dec 2011

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It is understood that US federal investigators are investigating claims that Carrier IQ software can be used to track user activity and send information to carriers without the users’ knowledge.

Carrier IQ became embroiled in controversy in recent weeks when claims were made by a researcher that the software was logging almost all of the activities a person carries out on their smartphone without their knowledge.

In a video demonstrating the scale of the software, security researcher Trevor Eckhart said this data includes what buttons are pressed, when phone numbers are dialled, when text messages are received and what each text reads. It can also read browser data, even when Eckhart used the HTTPS version of Google, which should hide searches from other parties. The data is sent to CarrierIQ through both a mobile data connection and Wi-Fi, Eckhart claimed.

Denials

The claims led to major mobile device makers, including Apple, refuting support for the software on their devices. The second-largest mobile network operator in the US, Verizon, also denied use of Carrier IQ on its devices.

The Washington Post reported that executives from Carrier IQ this week travelled to Washington to meet with officials at the US Federal Trade Commission.

Carrier IQ, which is installed in millions of mobile phones across numerous manufacturers, denies its software is being used to log keystrokes or message information. The company has said the software was only used for gathering information to improve the mobile experience, such as tracking when calls were dropped or when apps crashed.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com