MOBILE PHONE MAKERS Apple, Nokia and Research in Motion (RIM) are distancing themselves from Carrier IQ as the controversy over the firm's analytical software heats up.
Carrier IQ's analytics software has met with criticism, not just for what it collects but the fact that device makers and mobile operators did not disclose their use of the software. Initially Trevor Eckhart, the security researcher who discovered the Carrier IQ software on Google's Android operating system, had claimed RIM's Blackberry devices and Nokia's Symbian devices also ran Carrier IQ software, which both firms have now denied.
Yesterday Apple's IOS got some attention, with security researchers claiming to have found hooks for Carrier IQ software in IOS3, IOS4 and IOS5. Apple sent a statement to Allthingsd saying it plans to remove the software entirely in the future.
Apple said, "We stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. 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. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so."
Nokia's Mark Durrant tweeted, "Carrier IQ does not produce products for Nokia devices, so neither we nor anyone else could have installed them." RIM sent out a similar message, saying, "RIM does not pre-install the Carrier IQ app on BlackBerry smartphones or authorize its carrier partners to install the Carrier IQ app before sales or distribution." RIM continued that it "did not develop or commission the development of the Carrier IQ application, and has no involvement in the testing, promotion, or distribution of the app".
US Senator Al Franken weighed in demanding answers from Carrier IQ, stating, "The revelation that the locations and other sensitive data of millions of Americans are being secretly recorded and possibly transmitted is deeply troubling. This news underscores the need for Congress to act swiftly to protect the location information and private, sensitive information of consumers. But right now, Carrier IQ has a lot of questions to answer."
Carrier IQ meanwhile acknowledged the allegations that its software had violated US wiretap laws, stating that it "vigorously disagree[s] with these assertions". The firm also pushed blame onto mobile operators, saying, "Carrier IQ acts as an agent for the Operators. Each implementation is different and the diagnostic information actually gathered is determined by our customers - the mobile Operators. Carrier IQ does not gather any other data from devices."
Carrier IQ still maintains that it does not log the content of messages or keystrokes. However with device makers distancing themselves from the firm and its products, focus should be turned to mobile operators and whether they insist on the tracker-ware being installed on devices without users' knowledge. µ