Sen. Al Franken 'demands' answers on Carrier IQ's alleged spyware

By , Network World |  Security, Carrier IQ, privacy

"These actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act," Franken warned Lenhart. "This is potentially a very serious matter."

Among the questions asked by Franken are:

- Does Carrier IQ software log users' location? - What other data does Carrier IQ software log? - Is that data transmitted to Carrier IQ? Is it transmitted to smartphone manufacturers, operating system providers or carriers? Is it transmitted to any other third parties? - Will Carrier IQ allow users to stop any logging and transmission of this data? - How does Carrier IQ protect this data against hackers and other security threats?

The full text of Franken's letter follows:

Dear Mr. Lenhart,

I am very concerned by recent reports that your company's software -- pre-installed on smartphones used by millions of Americans -- is logging and may be transmitting extraordinarily sensitive information from consumers' phones, including:

• when they turn their phones on; • when they turn their phones off; • the phone numbers they dial; • the contents of text messages they receive; • the URLs of the websites they visit; • the contents of their online search queries -- even when those searches are encrypted; and • the location of the customer using the smartphone—even when the customer has expressly denied permission for an app that is currently running to access his or her location.

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.

These revelations are especially concerning in light of Carrier IQ's public assertions that it is "not recording keystrokes or providing tracking tools" (November 16), "[d]oes not record your keystrokes," and "[d]oes not inspect or report on the content of your communications, such as the content of emails and SMSs" (November 23).

I understand the need to provide usage and diagnostic information to carriers. I also understand that carriers can modify Carrier IQ's software. But it appears that Carrier IQ's software captures a broad swath of extremely sensitive information from users that would appear to have nothing to do with diagnostics -- including who they are calling, the contents of the texts they are receiving, the contents of their searches, and the websites they visit.

These actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is potentially a very serious matter.

I ask that you provide answers to the following questions by December 14, 2011.

(1) Does Carrier IQ software log users' location?  


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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