If you haven’t heard by now, Carrier IQ has recently come under fire for claiming to help cell phone manufactures and carriers collect data about users. I have a way to find out if you have Carrier IQ installed, and what you can do to protect yourself.
Carrier IQ has claimed to be on over 140 million devices and counting! The most difficult part about this kind of software and company is that the public and consumers have no knowledge of what kind of data and information is being collected and shared by the service providers and handset manufacturers. Sprint, HTC, Apple, Samsung, Nokia, RIM, and Verizon are all partners or accused of being so. The company that created Carrier IQ claims that the data it collects is to only make the users experience better.
This kind if software runs in the background and is not seen to the naked eye, it doesn’t require any special permissions and can track your every move. Carrier IQ has the power to log keystrokes, record telephone calls, store text messages, track the users locations and much more that cut close to privacy. Carrier IQ even logs all the things you do if you are in airplane mode, and strictly on WiFi, it’s also set to boot with the OS, so it’s unstoppable. When encrypted messages are supposed to be sent, Carrier IQ easily unencryptes them, as example of all this, you could see it in the video below. This raises some serious privacy concerns and what they are doing with that data.
The information collected by Carrier IQ isn’t set by the company but rather the company receiving the data. Although Carrier IQ does provide valid information for carries, like where an outage has occurred, or applications that are causing the phone to crash or eat up battery life. They can use that information to send out an update or a location to fix where they have a weak or no signal. Just the power to collect any kind of information raises the question of privacy, and how much the service providers and manufactures are collecting.
After the above video was released by Trevor Eckhart, things got a lot more ugly. Carrier IQ sent a cease and desist letter telling Eckhart to take down his findings and replace them with a statement that denied his previous research. This raised a whole slew of questions to why Carrier IQ wants to be kept a secret and what are they trying to hide. Since then, Carrier IQ apologized about the letter and now has a new CEO, Larry Lenhart.
The software defiantly has the power to collect any data without having the need to tell the public about if it’s on a device or not. The video below, is an actual training manual from Carrier IQ that was collected from Treveor Eckhart.
- Sprint has come forth and said that they do use Carrier IQ to track people, but solely for the purpose to improve their network.
- HTC has claimed that it doesn’t receive any kind of data from Carrier IQ, and has it’s own option of opting in or out of sending information to HTC.
- Verizon Wireless has said that it does not, and never has used Carrier IQ on it’s devices.
- Apple has said that it has removed support of Carrier IQ from iOS5.
- AT&T has come out and said that it also only uses Carrier IQ to improve their own network.
- Microsoft has said that Carrier IQ is not supported on any of their devices.
Carrier IQ is in deep trouble because this does bring up the issue of wiretapping laws because the software itself does have the capability of tracking you, reading your emails, text messages, and phone calls. If a case were to go through, Carrier IQ would have to present all the data that had been gone through them, so we will find out soon enough.
There is no actual way of removing Carrier IQ at the moment, but there is a way to check if your Android device has Carrier IQ installed and what kinds of information is being collected. There are a few apps on the market; The one I would recommend is VooDoo CarrierIQ Detector, which can be found on the Android Marketplace. If you know of any better apps to detect Carrier IQ, leave it in the comments below!
For rooted devices, you might still have Carrier IQ, but if you flashed your phone with Cyanogenmod, Carrier IQ isn’t present on your device anymore.
But there is still hope. The EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundations, has figured out a way to reverse engineer Carrier IQ and is asking the XDA community to post their profiles so Carrier IQ can be better understood, especially if you have a rooted phone (without a custom rom.) Just remeber what you do on your phone, anyone could be watching.
On behalf of the AndroidMeter team, I would like to thank everyone who is combating against Carrier IQ and hopefully this mess is cleared up soon. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please leave it in the comments section below.