NEWS2 December 2011

Nielsen still exploring ‘opt-in only’ services with Carrier IQ

Data analytics North America

US— Nielsen is continuing to work with Carrier IQ to explore opportunities for joint measurement of mobile services, networks and devices despite the privacy storm engulfing the mobile intelligence company.

The two firms struck an alliance in October to look at ways of using Carrier IQ’s technology to monitor the performance of devices and networks and report that data as an addition to Nielsen’s existing portfolio of mobile measurement products, which includes monitoring network signalling, analysing mobile phone bills and testing and benchmarking mobile quality of service.

A Nielsen spokesman told Research that as of now explorations are still ongoing, with no client work initiated. The spokesman said that any joint services would be built “exclusively using opt-in panels and in accordance with Nielsen’s stringent privacy standards”. No panels have been created to date, the spokesman added.

Carrier IQ’s technology is already installed on more than 140 million phones. The company says its tools are only used to collect information on the operational performance of a device, but privacy concerns were raised earlier this month by researcher Trevor Eckhart who documented instances were the technology appeared to log button presses, the contents of text messages and the addresses of websites he visited on his HTC phone.

In a statement dated 23 November the company said that its software does not record keystrokes, provide tracking tools or inspect and report on the contents of email or text message communications, nor does it provide real-time data reporting to any of its mobile network customers. It is interested only in “counting and summarising performance”, CEO Larry Lenhart said.

Yesterday Senator Al Franken, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law, wrote to Lenhart to express his concern that the company’s technology “is logging and may be transmitting extraordinarily sensitive information from consumers’ phones”.

“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 the user finds out, he or she will have no reasonable means to remove or stop it,” Franken said.

He has given the company until 14 December to respond, joining former Justice Department prosecutor Paul Ohm in warning that the company’s actions “may violate federal privacy laws”.


1 Comment

13 years ago

There's no scope for Nielsen to work "legally" with CIQ on an opt-in basis as there's no opt-in capability on their software. If they do provide such a facility it will have to be baed on a questionnaire on the handmset - but then who's customers are going to see it? Sprint, AT&T ? They don't have customers themselves (as they calim) so any legal rights to ask customers anything - a catch-22. On top of this, the information becomes Personally identifiable Information (PII) with location awareness as it's tied to an IMEI, IMSI or MSIDN and with user opt-in demographics Can't be achieved legally

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