Carrier IQ VP: Blame Carriers for Data Logging

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Carrier IQ has received loads of criticism for its software that logs user’s activities on their smartphone, but all of the user keystrokes that are getting stored and sent off to servers are the responsibility of cell service providers, according to Carrier IQ vice president of marketing Andrew Coward. He said the carriers are collecting the personal information and sending it on to Carrier IQ server and that his company doesn’t want the data.

The problem, Mr. Coward said, is that carriers are collecting the sensitive data in a log file and passing it on.

“When a piece of information is sent to us from the operation system, we do not need it to go through that log file,” Mr. Coward told The Verge. “There is no value to us in reading a keylog file, that’s not how our software works.”

Carrier IQ: It's not our faultCarrier IQ: It’s not our fault

Carrier IQ came under fire when Trevor Eckhart showed that the software was logging all of the keystrokes on his Android-based phone. The company denied the accusation, and sued Mr. Eckhart over the claims.

Apple’s iOS was shown to include references to Carrier IQ, although the company has since said it stopped using the software with the release of iOS 5, and that users were given the option to opt-in when sharing diagnostic data. The opt-in data Apple was collecting was anonymous and never included keystrokes from customer’s activities.

Carrier IQ gave phone makers and carriers an API so they can feed information into the application, and it seems companies may be using their own log files that are also collecting keystrokes.

“What should be happening, is [the phone] should just be giving [data] to us through the API,” Mr. Coward said. “What appears to be happening is that it’s giving it to us and making a copy of what it gave to us in the log file.”

In other words, it’s the carrier’s fault.

Senator Al Franken asked Carrier IQ last week to detail how and why it collects phone user’s data. He stated in a letter to the company, “It appears that this software runs automatically every time you turn your phone on. It also appears that an average user would have no way to know that this software is running — and that when that user finds out, he or she will have no reasonable means to remove or stop it.”

Congressman Edward J. Markey followed up by asking the Federal Trade Commission to look into Carrier IQ’s practices.

“This software raises a number of privacy concerns for Android, Blackberry, and Nokia users,” he said. “Consumers neither have knowledge of this data collection, nor what Carier IQ intends to do with this information. As a co-Chair of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, I am a concerned that this practice violates the privacy rights of consumers.”

Despite Mr. Coward’s claims that carriers are to blame for the data logging, Carrier IQ’s software is still monitoring keystrokes and SMS messages. The reason being, he said, is to listen for carrier “short codes” that issue system commands.

For now, there are more questions than answers surrounding Carrier IQ and its software. With politicians showing a focused interest in the company, however, we’ll probably know more about what’s being collected and stored soon.

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Comments

iVoid

Pass the buck time.


If I had Carrier IQ stock, I’d sell it fast.

Lee Dronick

He said the carriers are collecting the personal information and sending it on to Carrier IQ server and that his company doesn?t want the data.

So just bounce the emails or otherwise refuse the data. Maybe it isn’t that simple, but if they don’t want it why are they accepting it.

BurmaYank

“Despite Mr. Coward?s claims that carriers are to blame for the data logging, Carrier IQ?s software is still monitoring keystrokes and SMS messages. The reason being, he said, is to listen for carrier ?short codes? that issue system commands.”

Well, maybe not:

How Carrier IQ was wrongly accused of keylogging by Declan McCullagh @ c]net,( December 2, 2011). 

McCullagh said,  “In just a handful of days… Carrier IQ has been subjected to extraordinary public vilification, with reports accusing it of making a “rootkit keylogger”... (etc.)  ...The only problem, which is always a risk when a public lynching takes place, is that Carrier IQ appears to be not guilty of the charges lodged against it.”[ ... “There’s zero evidence that Carrier IQ captured, recorded, or transmitted any keystrokes.”

Well,  the truth of these questions is way over my head, but AFAICT, from the looks of the comments at that site, nobody seems to have a solid grasp of what was actually demonstrated in Trevor Eckhart’s videos.

ibuck

BurmaYank:

?How Carrier IQ was wrongly accused of keylogging? by Declan McCullagh @ c]net,( December 2, 2011).

On CNET’s web page they say:

Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired…

Is Declan carrying water for his lobbyist buddies in Washington?

Doesn?t this all sound like “When we hid the mini cameras in the girls locker room, we had no idea someone could record video of them undressed”?

iJack

I’m wondering who would benefit from access to keylog files.

computerbandgeek

I?m wondering who would benefit from access to keylog files.

THE “MAN”. He’s supposedly profiting off of innocent little you! I usually wonder about this as soon as people become paranoid about data collection. (Yes I do realize that there are cases where people are collecting more info than they should, but 11 times out of 10 people get way too freaked out about data collection.)

iJack

THE ?MAN? ...but 11 times out of 10 people get way too freaked out about data collection.)

Well, that wasn’t very enlightening.
And my understanding (from the 60s) of who “The Man” is, does not include people who act for profit.

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