MOBILE ANALYTICS OUTFIT Carrier IQ is facing a growing firestorm over its secretive analytics software that is deeply embedded into mobile operating systems such as Google's Android.
Carrier IQ, which claims to provide 'mobile intelligence', has been accused of supplying rootkits that track user interactions on smartphones. Carrier IQ's software is found on many operating systems including Google's Android and records application runtimes, media playback, location satistics and when calls are received.
An investigation conducted by the smart chaps at XDA-Developers brought Carrier IQ's activities to light, with the investigators labeling the software as a rootkit. It also found that stopping the service was not a trivial matter, since it's hidden under several layers of abstraction.
Carrier IQ became aware of the growing backlash against its software and issued a release in which it claimed device manufacturers use its software to "improve the quality of the network, understand device issues and ultimately improve the user experience". It went on to categorically deny that it was tracking keystrokes or providing tracking tools.
As for the data collected by Carrier IQ's software, the firm went on to say, "Our customers have stringent policies and obligations on data collection and retention. Each customer is different and our technology is customized to their exacting needs and legal requirements."
Being fair to Carrier IQ, it is not secretly splicing in tracker-ware into its products like Sony did, rather carriers and handset makers are opting to include the software without informing users. The handset makers should be questioned as to their motives for including such software and asked to provide detailed documents listing what they collect, what they do with the information and how long the information is stored.
Whatever the reason for including Carrier IQ's software, the facts are that users were unaware of it and it is engineered to be extremely difficult to remove. Those facts alone are enough to warrant serious concern. µ
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