Carrier IQ issued a statement defending its handset monitoring software, as it was reported that US politicians had joined the debate about user data privacy.
Following the posting of a video which alleged that the company’s software recorded a raft of private user data, including text input into secure websites, key presses, and the content of messages, Carrier IQ said that “our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video.”
According to Apple Insider, US senator Al Franken has issued a letter calling on Carrier IQ and its CEO, Larry Lenhart, to explain exactly what the company’s software records and how it works. Franken said that: “consumers need to know that their safety and privacy are being protected by the companies they trust with their sensitive information.”
Carrier IQ said that it “vigorously disagrees” with assertions that the software violates US wiretapping laws. It also said that it: “acts as an agent for the operators. Each implementation is different and the diagnostic information actually gathered is determined by our customers – the mobile operators. Carrier IQ does not gather any other data from devices.”
As the debate heated up, a number of industry players have come forward to state whether or not they include the Carrier IQ software on their devices. Bloomberg said that AT&T and Sprint had confirmed their use of the technology, in order to monitor the quality of the services delivered to customers – the task that it was designed for. These operators said that information gathered is treated in-line with their standard privacy policies.
T-Mobile USA has also reportedly confirmed use of the technology, to “improve our network.” In contrast, Verizon Wireless has said that it is not using the technology, and that it is “transparent” about its privacy position.
HTC, which manufactured the handset used in the original video, said that it includes the software on devices for “a number of US carriers,” but that European devices are unaffected. Apple has also said that while it has previously supported Carrier IQ, customers must opt-in to any diagnostics programme, and it will be removed in a future software update.
RIM joined Nokia in stating that Carrier IQ is not present on its handsets, with the Canadian company also stating that it had not authorised its use on BlackBerry devices by operator partners.
It is currently unclear if the Carrier IQ software, which has been deployed on more than 140 million devices, is also being used by operators beyond the US. The Guardian said that UK operators Vodafone, Orange and O2 had said that they are not deploying the technology, but that Carrier IQ has previously referenced a deployment with Vodafone Portugal.
CNET Australia said that operators there had also said they are not supporting Carrier IQ.
In a statement, analyst firm Ovum said that “on paper, these solutions look great from the carrier perspective. They promise to bridge the gap between where carriers are today and where they want to be in each of these areas, driving up revenues, reducing costs, or improving customer loyalty or the customer experience. What’s not to like? But in each of these areas, carriers seeking to address real issues also risk alienating their customers.”