In late 2011, the smartphone software maker Carrier IQ found its name in the headlines due to concerns about some of its software’s capabilities. In November, a researcher named Trevor Echkart, who does not work for Carrier IQ, posted a video online showing him using the company’s software to monitor keystrokes, text messages, and Internet searches. Eckhart echoed concerns that Carrier IQ might be monitoring customers’ private smartphone data by developing this ability within their applications.
In response, the company issued a ceast-and-desist order to Eckhart and filed a lawsuit, alleging that the 25-year-old had violated the company’s copyright by posting the information online and that he had made “unsubstantiated allegations” against the software maker by claiming that Carrier IQ could be keeping tabs on private data. Two days later, however, Carrier IQ withdrew the ceast-and-desist order and issued an apology to Eckhart.
Despite the company’s backtrack on its actions against Eckhart, Carrier IQ is still defending its applications. The VP of Marketing, Andrew Coward, said “What is true is that there’s a huge amount of information available to us on the device. But capturing keystrokes and messages, email, audio, and video is not what we do, and we’ve been absolutely adamant that we don’t do these things.”
After learning of these concerns, both Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey and Minnesota Senator Al Franken got involved in the debate, requesting the FTC to launch an investigation and sending a letter to Carrier IQ demanding to know about its business practices. Two class-action lawsuits have also been filed against the company, as well as Samsung and HTC, smartphone manufacturers that use the software. Most of the large smartphone carriers, including Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, also use Carrier IQ software on their devices.
Image c/o: Frederick Md Publicity