Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Controversy Builds for Carrier IQ Mobile Analytics

Carrier IQ, a privately held developer of mobile analytic software, faced increased criticism from mobile users and privacy advocates following published reports and analysis by Trevor Eckhart that Carrier IQ software is being used to secretly record and transmit highly detailed usage data.

U.S. Senator Al Franken, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, published an open letter requesting Carrier IQ to explain whether its software in fact logs users' location, numbers dialed, emails sent/received, text messages or any other keystrokes, and whether this data is transmitted without the user's express permission to the carrier or any other party.

Apple confirmed that while it has used Carrier IQ, the software is not included in iOS 5. Apple intends to remove it from iOS 4 completely with an upcoming software update. Apple also said that its usage was anonymous and did not include personal information.

AT&T and Sprint have both acknowledged using Carrier IQ but said that data collected is for network diagnostics and not for tracking people.

On its website, Carrier IQ claims its software is installed on approximately 141 million mobile handsets worldwide. The company has previously stated that its software is designed to help carriers improve their networks by identifying dropped calls and identify problems that hamper battery life.

In a statement, the company said its software "does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video. 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."

In a press statement issued on November 16th, Carrier IQ stated:

"While we look at many aspects of a device's performance, we are counting and summarizing performance, not recording keystrokes or providing tracking tools. The metrics and tools we derive are not designed to deliver such information, nor do we have any intention of developing such tools. The information gathered by Carrier IQ is done so for the exclusive use of that customer, and Carrier IQ does not sell personal subscriber information to 3rd parties. The information derived from devices is encrypted and secured within our customer's network or in our audited and customer-approved facilities."

  • In June 2010, Carrier IQ, a start-up based in Mountain View, California, raised $12 million in Series D funding for its mobile service intelligence solution. Carrier IQ's analytics platform provides real-time data to the mobile network operator directly from the source handsets of the subscribers. The platform aggregates, analyzes and delivers that data via web applications. The latest funding round was led by Bridgescale Partners, with participation from existing investors Intel Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Accel Partners, Charles River Ventures, Presidio Ventures and Nauta Capital.

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