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Smartphone rootkit software company CarrierIQ receives letter from US Senator

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 01 Dec 2011 13:40 User comments (13)

Smartphone rootkit software company CarrierIQ receives letter from US Senator Over the last two weeks, the phone-tracking firm Carrier IQ has seen its popularity explode, but not in a good way.
The company has been accused of being a rootkit/keylogger pre-installed on over 100 million Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Nokia devices around the world. The software quietly watches and logs all keystrokes entered into the device, including texts. It also monitors location, when you shut your phone off, and who you call.

In the U.S., AT&T and Sprint are carrier partners, and HTC and Samsung are noted manufacturers that use it.

Here is the video that started the scandal, thanks to Trevor Eckhart (continue after the video for rest of article).



Because the company has sent a C&D to Trevor, and the company has stopped answering reporters, the US government has gotten involved.

Senator Al Franken has sent an open letter to Carrier IQ president Larry Lenhart, asking flat out, "what does the company really do?"

Here is the letter from the Senator, in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Lenhart,

I am very concerned by recent reports that your company's software pre-installed on smartphones used by millions of Americans is logging and may be transmitting extraordinarily sensitive information from consumers' phones, including:




- when they turn their phones on;
- when they turn their phones off;
- the phone numbers they dial;
- the contents of text messages they receive;
- the URLs of the websites they visit;
- the contents of their online search queries?even when those searches are encrypted; and
- the location of the customer using the smartphone even when the customer has expressly denied permission for an app that is currently running to access his or her location.

It appears that this software runs automatically every time you turn your phone on. It also appears that an average user would have no way to know that this software is running?and that when that user finds out, he or she will have no reasonable means to remove or stop it.

These revelations are especially concerning in light of Carrier IQ's public assertions that it is "not recording keystrokes or providing tracking tools"? (November 16), "[d]oes not record your keystrokes, and [d]oes not inspect or report on the content of your communications, such as the content of emails and SMSs? (November 23).

I understand the need to provide usage and diagnostic information to carriers. I also understand that carriers can modify Carrier IQ's software. But it appears that Carrier IQ's software captures a broad swath of extremely sensitive information from users that would appear to have nothing to do with diagnostics?including who they are calling, the contents of the texts they are receiving, the contents of their searches, and the websites they visit.

These actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is potentially a very serious matter.

I ask that you provide answers to the following questions by December 14, 2011.

(1) Does Carrier IQ software log users' location?


(2) What other data does Carrier IQ software log? Does it log:

a. The telephone numbers users dial?
b. The telephone numbers of individuals calling a user?
c. The contents of the text messages users receive?
d. The contents of the text messages users send?
e. The contents of the emails they receive?
f. The contents of the emails users send?
g. The URLs of the websites that users visit?
h. The contents of users? online search queries?
i. The names or contact information from users? address books?
j. Any other keystroke data?


(3) What if any of this data is transmitted off of a users? phone? When? In what form?


(4) Is that data transmitted to Carrier IQ? Is it transmitted to smartphone manufacturers, operating system providers, or carriers? Is it transmitted to any other third parties?


(5) If Carrier IQ receives this data, does it subsequently share it with third parties? With whom does it share this data? What data is shared?


(6) Will Carrier IQ allow users to stop any logging and transmission of this data?

(7) How long does Carrier IQ store this data?

(8) Has Carrier IQ disclosed this data to federal or state law enforcement?

(9) How does Carrier IQ protect this data against hackers and other security threats?

(10) Does Carrier IQ believe that its actions comply with the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, including the federal wiretap statute (18 U.S.C. § 2511 et seq.), the pen register statute (18 USC § 3121 et seq.), and the Stored Communications Act (18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq.)?


(11) Does Carrier IQ believe that its actions comply with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. § 1030)? Why?

I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.


Sincerely,

AL FRANKEN
Chairman, Subcommittee on Privacy
Technology and the Law[/entity]

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13 user comments

11.12.2011 15:36

Carrier IQ Betrayed The Law!

22.12.2011 0:58

String 'em up!



32.12.2011 10:58

I work at a business that is government regulated. What I have read this company has gone far and above what it needed to do with its software. WOW. Craps going to hit the fan. You know I have always been told this was one of the reasons that we all had to switch/upgrade our phones a few years ago so "Big Brother" could watch over and monitor us. Its finally coming out that it is possible and people are trying to cover their collective butts.

42.12.2011 11:27

George Orwell, 1984.

52.12.2011 14:36

Henny Penny, Chicken Little THE SKY'S FALLING!

It doesn't take much to get stupid people worried.

62.12.2011 23:30
WierdName
Inactive

Well, time to root...


Doesnt expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected and therefore mean youre expecting the expected which was the unexpected until you expected it?
"Opinions are immunities to being told were wrong." - Relient K

72.12.2011 23:37

Originally posted by WierdName:
Well, time to root...
That time came long ago.


813.3.2012 17:58

my question is, why did HTC (and other cell providers) feel the need to ADD CarrierIQ to their phones? what service(s) does it actually offer?


darkflux

914.3.2012 22:16
WierdName
Inactive

Originally posted by darkflux:
my question is, why did HTC (and other cell providers) feel the need to ADD CarrierIQ to their phones? what service(s) does it actually offer?
My question is why people seem to dig up year+ old threads semi-frequently. Regardless, such usage data is incredibly valuable and goes for a LOT. Not only do the providers get a better look at the usage of the phones on their network but advertisers and marketers can target the people that actually are likely to purchase the goods/services they want to sell. They can therefore make a far greater return on investment by that targeting rather than just shotgunning out spam and hoping some stuff sticks.

EDIT- Case in point: you ever get a random text ad to your phone for something you would actually be interested in if you weren't just spammed?
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Mar 2012 @ 22:17

Doesnt expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected and therefore mean youre expecting the expected which was the unexpected until you expected it?
"Opinions are immunities to being told were wrong." - Relient K

1015.3.2012 12:05

Originally posted by WierdName:
Originally posted by darkflux:
my question is, why did HTC (and other cell providers) feel the need to ADD CarrierIQ to their phones? what service(s) does it actually offer?
My question is why people seem to dig up year+ old threads semi-frequently. Regardless, such usage data is incredibly valuable and goes for a LOT. Not only do the providers get a better look at the usage of the phones on their network but advertisers and marketers can target the people that actually are likely to purchase the goods/services they want to sell. They can therefore make a far greater return on investment by that targeting rather than just shotgunning out spam and hoping some stuff sticks.

EDIT- Case in point: you ever get a random text ad to your phone for something you would actually be interested in if you weren't just spammed?
yes, i understand how important that info is to (some) people, but 1. it is MY info, and they need MY permission to have it, and 2. i've already PAID them for the phone, so they are already making money off of me! and for $500 a phone, they should be glad people can actually afford them, without stealing their data without asking...

1115.3.2012 17:18
WierdName
Inactive

Originally posted by darkflux:
yes, i understand how important that info is to (some) people, but 1. it is MY info, and they need MY permission to have it, and 2. i've already PAID them for the phone, so they are already making money off of me! and for $500 a phone, they should be glad people can actually afford them, without stealing their data without asking...
What's your point? You're assuming ethics have anything to do with this...

Doesnt expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected and therefore mean youre expecting the expected which was the unexpected until you expected it?
"Opinions are immunities to being told were wrong." - Relient K

1215.3.2012 19:47

Originally posted by WierdName:
Originally posted by darkflux:
yes, i understand how important that info is to (some) people, but 1. it is MY info, and they need MY permission to have it, and 2. i've already PAID them for the phone, so they are already making money off of me! and for $500 a phone, they should be glad people can actually afford them, without stealing their data without asking...
What's your point? You're assuming ethics have anything to do with this...
THAT is my point: that ethics DIDN'T enter into the equation!

not that an "unethical corporation" is a new thing, but that doesn't mean we should let them take and use our personal info without them telling us about it at LEAST...

1315.3.2012 20:36
WierdName
Inactive

Originally posted by darkflux:
THAT is my point: that ethics DIDN'T enter into the equation!

not that an "unethical corporation" is a new thing, but that doesn't mean we should let them take and use our personal info without them telling us about it at LEAST...
No argument there.

Doesnt expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected and therefore mean youre expecting the expected which was the unexpected until you expected it?
"Opinions are immunities to being told were wrong." - Relient K

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