Connecticut-based systems administrator Carrier IQ has found itself in hot water of late. Gizmodo recently broke the story that revealed how the company tracked information on most Smartphones without users’ knowledge or ability to opt out. This revelation came to light via the YouTube video posted by Android developer Trevor Eckhart which demonstrated that Carrier IQ circumvents web encryption to pick up on passwords, Google queries, and other web activities.
Predictably, wireless customers have been outraged, and carriers themselves have sought to distance themselves from the company. Furthermore, Senator Al Franken sent Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart a stern letter warning of possible legal action and demanding explanation by December 14.
CIQ has recently come to its own defense, however. They are insisting that their intentions are altruistic rather than malevolent. The company released a statement assuring the wireless community that they do not store SMS messages, e-mail, photos, audio, or video recordings. "We measure and summarize performance of the device to assist Operators in delivering better service," they explained. Additionally, CIQ has claimed that the monitoring operations they undertake are totally on the behest of the carriers.
Andrew Coward, CIQ’s VP of Marketing told The Wall Street Journal’s All Things D that, while the software listens for specific, keystrokes to send diagnostic information to the carriers, they are not privy to the actual message. They claim to ignore your personal information but still have access to it.
“If there’s a dropped call, the carriers want to know about it,” Coward clarified. “So we record where you were when the call dropped, and the location of the tower being used. … Similarly, if you send an SMS to me and it doesn’t go through, the carriers want to know that, too. And they want to know why — if it’s a problem with your handset or the network.”
Coward also maintained that CIQ does not share the data with any 3rd party operators, and thus consumers have nothing to fear.