December 16, 2011
A Bit More On Carrier IQ
Senator Al Franken received letters from Carrier IQ, AT&T, Sprint, Samsung, and HTC detailing their use of Carrier IQ software as he had requested. They are available in full from Senator Franken’s Senate web page and summarized in a Bloomberg Business Week report. The carriers use the software, they say, to monitor such things as network performance, dropped calls, and Internet service outages. All benign and all disclosed to the extent that user agreements disclose/require the data collection. They specifically say they don’t collect keystrokes, contents of emails or text messages, contact information, searches and similar information. AT&T doesn’t collect URLs but Sprint says it does, but not for marketing purposes.
I’ll just say that as carriers, I would think they could have more direct access to some of that information by the mere fact it flows through their systems and may have been sourced through its servers. That’s another story or scandal depending how information is disclosed. Another facet to the story is how the FBI denied an FOIA request about Carrier IQ. That could mean the agency is either investigating the company, or doesn’t want to disclose if and how it uses the software in investigations. The denial shouldn’t imply one or the other, as this article suggests. As we turn more and more of our private lives over to service providers, it would be nice to know more about what is going on with the mechanisms they use to process our use of their systems beyond what they put in the service agreements. That extends to Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, and all the other companies we rely upon for fun and other. [MG]