European regulators ask about Carrier IQ

December 5, 2011

Carrier IQ, the company that has been accused of installing surveillance software on smartphones, is now facing scrutiny from European regulators, PC World reported.

The British Information Commissioner’s Office and the European Consumers’ Organization have also expressed concerns about the software. All major carriers in Great Britain have said that they do not use the software in their handsets, ZDNet reported last week.

The Bavarian State office for Data Protection has sent a letter to Apple asking the company about its use of Carrier IQ, the report said.

Apple said in a statement to All Things Digital that it used to use the program in its devices, but has taken it out of almost all of its devices and will phase it out in a future software update. The company stressed that it never recorded personal information and that sharing that information has always been opt-in.

U.S. carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have all confirmed that they use Carrier IQ to gather information about their network’s diagnostics through the program on their networks. Verizon has said it does not use the software in its phones.

In the United States, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has sent a letter asking the company to provide more information about its practices; Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to look into the company.

In research posted by security researcher Trevor Eckhart, the software appeared to react to each key press and to read Web sites, including from those using the secure HTTPS protocol. Dan Rosenberg, a researcher who works with Virtual Security Research has posted his own research saying that there isn’t evidence that any information beyond what’s needed for network diagnostics is being recorded or sent off of the device. He did, however, join Eckhart in calling for Carrier IQ to be completely transparent about what it collects, and that consumers need to able to opt out of the data collection.

Related stories:

Carrier IQ clarifies its functions

Who’s using Carrier IQ and for what purpose?

Sen. Franken asks Carrier IQ for answers

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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