NEWS5 December 2011

Carrier IQ hits back at ‘surveillence’ claims

Data analytics North America

US— Under-fire mobile intelligence firm Carrier IQ broke its silence late last week to defend its technology and “vigorously disagree” with those speculating that the firm may have violated federal wiretap laws.

The firm said that while there is “a great deal of information available” to its software when installed on mobile devices, the software “does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video”.

“We measure and summarise performance of the [mobile] device to assist operators in delivering better service,” Carrier IQ said in a statement. “For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen.”

Its statement carries a quote from Rebecca Bace of Infidel, described as a “respected security expert”. Bace says she has examined implementation of the Carrier IQ software and asserts that “allegations of keystroke collection or other surveillance of mobile device user’s content are erroneous”.

The company said it is “aware of various commentators alleging Carrier IQ has violated wiretap laws and we vigorously disagree with the assertions”.

Among those commentators is former Justice Department prosecutor turned law professor Paul Ohm, who warned that the company was at risk of a class action lawsuit. In total, eight separate complaints were filed on 1 December by a variety of plaintiffs and law firms, all naming Carrier IQ and some naming manufacturers of handsets, including HTC, Research in Motion and Samsung, and network operator Sprint.