Carrier IQ Sued over Smartphone Surveillance
USA – December 1st saw Carrier IQ sued over smartphone surveillance.
Legal action is being taken against the telecommunications software company Carrier IQ in response to the revelations that the firms software has been installed on many handsets in the US without their owners’ consent. This software collects information on all aspects of the way in which a handset is used, even accessing data which is meant to be secure.
Trevor Eckhart, a software expert, discovered the program running on an HTC device on which he was working, he then released a YouTube Video which detailed his findings, which has now received over 1 million views.
In his video he describes how the software is effectively hidden from view, only accessible through certain means, and cannot be turned off by the user. Using sophisticated techniques, he was able to monitor the workings of the program, discovering that it was logging many inputs which the device received, such as key-presses.
Shockingly, Carrier IQ was able to access data which was transmitted over an https protocol (information which should be confidential).
In response to Elkhart’s releases, Carrier IQ issued a Cease and Desist law-suit, which they have since retracted. It is known that Android phones have this software installed, Apple has announced that it stopped using the software with the release of iOS5.
Carrier IQ responded to the allegations of privacy invasion and surveillance by saying that their intentions are only to gather information on the workings of smartphones to understand their faults so that manufacturers can make improvements.
However, class action lawsuits which represent the huge number of people who have been affected are being brought against the company from the states of Missouri and the other from Illinois. In addition, the smartphone manufacturers HTC and Samsung, which have had Carrier IQ installed on their phones, are facing one lawsuit each, with plaintiffs claiming that the manufacturers have broken US wire-tapping laws.
Senator Al Franken, US Senator for Minnesota has called these firms to give a statement to explain the situation, which he expects to receive by the 14th of December.
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