Carrier IQ humbled, grilled by Feds

By Richi Jennings (@richi ) - December 15, 2011.

Carrier IQ logo
Carrier IQ has been interviewed by the FCC and FTC in the ongoing row over smartphone privacy (or lack of it). The company says it wishes it could turn back time and handle things differently. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers scoff and mock.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: A is for Aardvark...

    Sari Horwitz reports:

Executives from Carrier IQ traveled to Washington...and met with...the Federal Trade Commission...[and] with Federal Communications Commission officials. ... The FTC inquiry was confirmed by officials.


Carrier IQ has said that its software is not designed to capture keystrokes or the content of messages but...that might have happened by accident. ... AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint...said they use the company’s software. ... Apple has said it would remove Carrier IQ from i­Phones in a future software update.   

    Jaikumar Vijayan adds:

Carrier IQ spokeswoman Mira Woods [said]...the meetings were initiated by Carrier IQ, not by the FTC or the FCC. ... Carrier IQ has been desperately trying to assuage concerns...ever since security researcher Trevor Eckhart...described it as sneaky, hard-to-remove data logging software...pre-installed on millions of mobile handsets.


Earlier this month, Rep. Edward Markey, (D.-Mass.) asked the FTC to investigate...and verify whether it is secretly collecting users' personal information.   

John Paczkowski is comfortable with the I-word:

[T]here could be an official inquiry, the company just doesn’t know about it yet. And that may yet prove to be the case. ... [A]nonymous federal officials have confirmed the investigation.   

Carrier IQ's Andrew Coward isn't afraid to be humble:

One of the lessons we've had [is that]...we should not have done that cease and desist. ... What may have been the right response three or four years ago may not be the right response for now...we did not expect that we would need to be so open and transparent.


That was a huge learning process. ... We believe we have very legitimate business.   

But TheGhostOfNormanWisdom is bluntly critical:

We should thank HTC. It was HTC that unencrypted log file. ... Without HTC, Carrier IQ would endlessly mislead us, as it seems, they're trying now.


[Carrier IQ] mines data nothing to do with crashes and networks. Things like who took a photograph, when and where. ... It's stalking, it's spyware, it is surveillance.   

And Rennt says the company brought this on itself:

No matter what the customer agreed this functionality is morally reprehensible. ... CarrierIQ itself deserves all the criticism it is getting.   

Meanwhile, klubar looks for the silver lining:

I read the CIQ pdf, and the part I was most impressed with was the service quality heatmaps. It would be great if the carriers made...this data available.

  This would make it much easier to evaluate a carrier in your actual area. Instead the carriers just release vague maps that show that nearly the entire US is green. Clearly they have the data.   

   And Finally...
A is for Aardvark

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Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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