In what could be a precursor of legal action to come, mobile software vendor Carrier IQ has been hit with two lawsuits over the use of its controversial tracking technology in tens of millions of mobile phones worldwide.
One of the lawsuits was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and accuses Carrier IQ, HTC Inc. and HTC America Inc. with unlawfully intercepting communications from private mobile phones, smart phones and handsets.
The lawsuit was filed by Erin Janek, the owner of an HTC Android phone from Sprint. It charges Carrier IQ and HTC of surreptitiously monitoring and collecting data from Janek's private communications on the phone without Janek's permission or knowledge.
The complaint notes that Carrier IQ and HTC's actions raised questions about whether the data collected from Janek's phone was protected under Federal Wiretap law and whether the interception of the data was intentional within the meaning of the law.
The other lawsuit was filed on behalf of four smartphone users from California and names HTC, Samsung and Carrier IQ as defendants. The lawsuit leaves the door open for other carriers and device makers to be included in the complaint later.
That particular lawsuit was filed in District Court for the Northern District of California and accuses the companies of violating the Federal Wiretap Act as well as California's Unfair Business Practice Act.
HTC and Samsung are two of the handset vendors that yesterday admitted to installing Carrier IQ's software on handsets. Both companies have insisted that they did so only at the specific request of their carrier customers.
Carrier IQ has been at the center of what has very quickly ballooned into a full blown privacy firestorm over the use of its software by wireless carriers. Earlier this month, Trevor Eckhart, a security researcher from Connecticut published a report disclosing how the company's software could be used for extensive user tracking by wireless service providers.