Over the Thanksgiving break, a relative of mine showed me his Android phone, and a new app that had recently popped up on it without his consent. He could not get it to go away, and according to him it was some kind of tracking facilitator. I forgot about this until I read Al Franken’s complaint about tracking software on smart phones:
The maker of the smartphone software that triggered a snooping row has been called to account by a US Senator.
Senator Al Franken has written to Carrier IQ asking it to explain the “troubling” findings of security expert Trevor Eckhart.
Mr Eckhart claimed Carrier IQ software could log everything people did on their smartphones but did not ask for consent to record data.
The row blew up after Mr Eckhart posted a video on YouTube that he said showed Carrier IQ could record a user’s location, keystrokes and the websites they visited.
Carrier IQ tried to silence Mr Eckhart with the threat of legal action but backed down following the intervention of the digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Carrier IQ’s alibi is that their software merely oversees and corrects network glitches rather than saves every keystroke you make on your phone. Nobody really buys that. This software has shown up on over 140 million phones nationwide.
Google has disclaimed any association with Carrier IQ. The iPhone includes some iteration of Carrier IQ, and other wireless manufacturers have admitted that the software is on their phones, but claim that the carriers requested them.
If this all sounds creepy, well, you’re paying attention. It also appears to violate US law.
Here’s the Franken letter to Carrier IQ about their illicit logging activities. The worst part of all this is that nobody yet knows who is receiving this information and what is being done with it.
It would be nice if we still had a Bill of Rights.