Germany Questions Apple Over Carrier IQ Use

Germany’s Bavarian State Authority for Data Protection has sent Apple a letter requesting information about how the iPhone maker uses Carrier IQ to track user activity. The request follows reports that smartphone makers have been logging user activities without their knowledge.

Germany wants to know how Apple uses Carrier IQApple has already acknowledged that it has been using the software, but stopped supporting it with the release of iOS 5. The company also plans to remove all traces of the code with a future software update, and that it has never logged keystrokes, unlike Android-based phones.

“We read in the press about the privacy concerns the software may pose and decided to ask Apple about the details,” commented Thomas Kranig, head of the regulatory agency, according to Bloomberg. “If Apple decided to cease the use, all the better.

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

While Carrier IQ may appear somewhat insidious on Android devices, it appears it was far less so on iOS. Apple gathers basic data only after users expressly give permission, doesn’t track keystrokes, and anonymizes any data that may be transmitted.

“With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information,” said Apple spokesperson Natalie Harrison.

Senator Al Franken is interested in finding out what Carrier IQ is up to, as well. He issued an open letter to the company questioning what types of information is gathered from smartphones, and how it is collected.

Previously, the Senator called Apple to task over location tracking data it was collecting from iPhone users.

Apple has not commented on Germany’s request for information.