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Carrier IQ Denies Wiretap Claims

Smartphone network diagnostic software maker says it only collects data that carriers request. Is your phone affected?
Notably, Eckhart also manages corporate networks, and had begun looking into Carrier IQ's software after finding unauthorized communications between devices inside his network and Carrier IQ's servers. Eckhart's research ultimately highlighted that while Carrier IQ software was running on more than 141 million handsets, it was typically installed so that it was hidden, impossible to deactivate, and transmitting unknown data points off of the device. Accordingly, Eckhart demanded detailed answers from Carrier IQ about what its software was doing, and why.

Since then, Carrier IQ has said that it only transmits data that the carriers tell it to capture. "It's the operator that determines what data is collected," Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart told All Things Digital on Thursday. "They make that decision based on their privacy standards and their agreement with their users, and we implement it."

In other words: "We capture only the data they specify, and provide it to them," he said. "We don't capture more than that."

While Carrier IQ hasn't detailed exactly which data points that includes--say, on a carrier-by-carrier basis--it now has a December 14 deadline to do so. That's thanks to a letter to Carrier IQ, sent by Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) Thursday. Franken has demanded detailed answers to numerous questions, including whether Carrier IQ logs users' location, exact details of the data it logs (such as telephone numbers, URLs visited, or online search queries), exactly which data points get transmitted to Carrier IQ's servers, and whether Carrier IQ will allow users to opt out of this data collection. He also asked for a detailed response as to why the company believes that it complies with the federal wiretap statute, the Stored Communications Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Which carriers use Carrier IQ software, and which smartphone manufacturers include the software as part of their Android operating system distributions? Carrier IQ hasn't published a customer list, but many carriers and manufacturers--including Apple--have recently clarified their relationship with the company. "We stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update," according to a statement from Apple. In addition, it said that all other diagnostic data collected by Apple is only done if users explicitly opt in, at which point the data is sent in anonymized and encrypted form.

Nokia has denied that its current handsets ship with Carrier IQ, and Verizon has also said that none of its handsets currently ship with Carrier IQ software installed. RIM, meanwhile, released this statement: "RIM does not pre-install the CarrierIQ app on BlackBerry smartphones or authorize its carrier partners to install the CarrierIQ app before sales or distribution."

In terms of current Carrier IQ customers, AT&T and Sprint both use its software on some of their handsets, though both say they use it only for diagnostic purposes. In addition, HTC and Samsung have confirmed that Carrier IQ runs on some of their handsets, and said that they added the software in response to carriers' requests.

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