Carrier IQ's own marketing claims undercut its defense

Company's marketing info suggests tools can do more than diagnose operational issues

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The company insisted that its software does not record, store or transmit the actual content of emails, SMS messages, photographs, audio or video back to the carriers. "For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen."

The comments appear to be in response to a YouTube video (see below) posted by Eckhart in which he showed how browser data was being read and an SMS message sent to his handset was logged word for word by CIQ's software before it was even displayed on his screen.

Video from security researcher Trevor Eckhart claims that tracking software from Carrier IQ can collect data from a mobile phone without the user's knowledge.

The demo did not make clear, though, whether CIQ software actually stored the data, or was capable of transmitting it back to the carriers.

The company said that it was trying to clarify misinformation about its products and reiterated earlier statements about the technology being a tool for wireless operators to improve service efficiencies.

A statement posted Nov. 23 (download PDF) categorically stated that CIQ's technologies do not record keystrokes, provide real-time data reporting to carriers or inspect or report on the content of communications.

Carrier IQ marketing material close-up
Another section of the marketing material for Carrier IQ's Insight Experience Manager offers details about what the software can do.

Despite requests for comment, the company did not make anyone available immediately to clarify why its datasheet for Insight Experience Manager describes the software as being able to "capture" button presses and screen transitions, why usage information would be captured while a phone was not connected to the network or what sorts of data views it enables at an individual user level.

Another question still unanswered relates to the data-reporting capabilities of CIQ's software. In recent statements, the company has maintained that its software does not provide any real-time data reporting for customers. However, the datasheet for Experience Manager talks about the software being able to update and aggregate data in real-time.

A spokeswoman promised to make a company executive available early today, but as of noon ET had not done so.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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