Carrier IQ on iOS but not WP7, Nexus, Verizon or Nokia devices [Update]

The Carrier IQ scandal that we reported on earlier today continues to grow, as the controversial tracking software is discovered on more devices, and manufacturers and operators begin to clarify where they stand on its usage.

Carrier IQ is a sophisticated piece of software that is made available by a private company to device manufacturers and mobile network operators; the company’s own figures indicate that it is now installed on over 140 million devices. Software developer Trevor Eckhart revealed the extent to which the software apparently tracks user data such as numbers dialed, the content of web searches and even keystroke logging – which it then sends back to Carrier IQ servers.

Since Eckhart’s revelations, it has since emerged that Carrier IQ software has been discovered on Apple’s iOS devices too. iPhone jailbreaker Grant Paul (@chpwn) tweeted confirmation that devices with iOS 3.1 included Carrier IQ:

A couple of hours later, he also confirmed that Carrier IQ can be found on iOS 5 too, although under a different reference:

He has since published a blog post explaining in great detail everything that he has uncovered about the way that Carrier IQ is implemented on iOS devices. Part of his post suggests that the extent to which the CIQ software logs and transmits data from iOS may not be as comprehensive as the CIQ implementation on Android. Crucially, Carrier IQ on iOS seems to be switched off by default; it only starts harvesting and transmitting data when the device is in Diagnostic Mode.

Interestingly, Grant Paul also confirms the news that, for now at least, Windows Phone appears to be the only mobile OS without Carrier IQ installed.

Likely anticipating considerable backlash from users, as word of the scandal spreads, the first clarifications are beginning to emerge from networks and OEMs about where they stand on the CIQ debacle. The Verge reports that Jeffrey Nelson, from Verizon Wireless, has reiterated an earlier statement – from two weeks ago, before the controversy flared up – that Verizon does not use Carrier IQ software on any of its handsets. At time of writing, Verizon remains the only US network operator to have issued such a clarification.

Nokia has also clarified its stance on the controversial software. A Nokia spokesperson told SlashGear that “Carrier IQ does not ship products for any Nokia devices”, describing reports of the software being found on Nokia handsets as “inaccurate”.

Interestingly, it appears that flagship Android devices – those produced in direct partnership with Google to launch new Android versions – do not contain the CIQ software at all. The Verge has heard from ‘an extremely reliable source’ that the Google Nexus One, Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and first-generation Motorola Xoom tablet are completely free of Carrier IQ.

So, for now, it seems that your best bet to avoid this whole wretched Carrier IQ fiasco is to buy a flagship Android handset, or a Windows Phone. If you must buy an iDevice, keep it out of Diagnostic Mode at all costs.


UPDATE 1: Speaking with TechRadar, Telefónica O2 stated it "doesn't collect any information via Carrier IQ. This is a question for the handset suppliers." When asked if they use any similar software on their phones, O2 stated that "the handset manufacturers might install it so that they can collect diagnostic data, but if they do, it's not on our behalf, and we don't have access to any of the data that may be collected." 

Meanwhile, Vodafone Group confirmed to TechRadar and PaidContent.org that it does not use Carrier IQ in any of its businesses, and going as far as stating that it would never allow such software on any phone on its networks, as this "would directly contradict our privacy policy to customers". 

France Telecom, parent company of Europe's Orange network, told PaidContent.org that while it could not rule out Carrier IQ being installed on phones used on its network, 'Orange does not validate it, or any diagnostic services similar to it, so it and other related services do not work'. 

The Canadian carrier Rogers has also tweeted that Carrier IQ is not used on any devices sold through its network. 


UPDATE 2: Microsoft's Joe Belfiore has now confirmed that Windows Phones are free from the scourge of Carrier IQ software.


UPDATE 3: The Verge has received word from a few other companies about their involvement with Carrier IQ. First up is HTC - they claim to have no direct relationship with Carrier IQ, but that the software is "required on devices by a number of US carriers", adding that they're "investigating the option to allow consumers to opt-out of data collection by Carrier IQ". 

Apple has also issued a statement, explaining that they "stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products, and will remove it completely in a future software update." They also emphasise the fact that customers "must actively opt-in to share information" that is sent back to Apple for diagnostic purposes, and that in any event, these data are "sent in an anonymous and encrypted form". Apple also explicitly denies recording or logging "keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so."

Sprint, on the other hand, has come clean and openly admitted to using Carrier IQ "to analyze our network performance and identify where we should be improving service"; in fact, Sprint goes further than this, in stating that "Carrier IQ is an integral part of the Sprint service". They add that they "collect enough information to understand the customer experience on our network... but we do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc. using this tool."

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31 Comments

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I guess I'm confused...

Can someone explain to me how logging someone's keystrokes and logging your calls is important to a carrier to improve service?

I don't get it.

Oh and another thing...I guess you better do your research before you decide on getting your teenager child a smart phone now. Could make for interesting conversation if a software is monitoring what your child is doing on his or her phone.

As more and more reports come out it seems that it may just be a US carrier thing.

Good thing they have those laws that remove anyone's right to privacy.

I kind of believe someone who found CIQ on a lot of these phones (Nokia, BlackBerry) over statements from the companies saying otherwise.

Simon said,
I kind of believe someone who found CIQ on a lot of these phones (Nokia, BlackBerry) over statements from the companies saying otherwise.

Well chpwn found files, but that doesn't mean they go anywhere. So Apple could be telling the truth. If you noticed, chpwn also states that the CIQ files aren't updated if Diagnostics is disabled, which it is by default. So if you are the tin foil hat type, I am sure you had diagnostics disabled and should be safe according to chpwn.

I'm not too worried about Apple at the moment, as not only does it appear that CIQ can be disabled, but it isn't used on most iOS 5 devices and will be fully removed in a future update. But the files were found on Nokia and BlackBerry devices - and both companies have outright denied it.

The iOS version is extremely tame compared to the Android and Blackberry versions (no keylogging, text message reading, etc.). It can also be completely turned off, and Apple asks if you want to turn off sending Diagnostic & Usage reports while you're setting up the phone.

Update: Apple just issued a statement saying CarrierIQ is actually completely disabled in iOS 5. The files relating to it just haven't been completely removed yet.

Edited by Elliott, Dec 1 2011, 8:52pm :

Elliott said,
The iOS version is extremely tame compared to the Android and Blackberry versions (no keylogging, text message reading, etc.). It can also be completely turned off, and Apple asks if you want to turn off sending Diagnostic & Usage reports while you're setting up the phone.

Update: Apple just issued a statement saying CarrierIQ is actually completely disabled in iOS 5. The files relating to it just haven't been completely removed yet.

Dont believe that really

"If you 'must' buy an iDevice, keep it out of Diagnostic Mode at all costs." Annnddd it's braindead comments like that which don't help. Was there any real need for the must in that, did it help the article at all?

You can turn off the diagnostics when setting up the phone and even after the initial setup.
Settings but Apple prompts you for that setting during iOS 5 device setup, too.

Carrier IQ is something that Carriers put on phones as part of their OEM software. This is out of the hands of both Google and the manufacturers. (from daringfireball where some comment of this article has been borrowed from.)

It's not an Apple vs Carrier IQ time it's about the cell companies themselves. Interesting that the other manufacturers say it doesn't exist but there it was, found on a handset so are they really being honest at this late stage of it all?

I'm still amazed that news sites like the BBC and more haven't made anything of it yet Apple's GPS caching of cell towers warranted worldwide news. Surely Carrier IQ is a bit bigger than one phone?

shifts said,
"If you 'must' buy an iDevice, keep it out of Diagnostic Mode at all costs." Annnddd it's braindead comments like that which don't help. Was there any real need for the must in that, did it help the article at all?

You can turn off the diagnostics when setting up the phone and even after the initial setup.
Settings

Plus by default all that junk is turned off

what said,
I've got a Nokia WP7 handset. I guess that means I'm doubly safe from this.

who knows they might be using a different software and not IQ

still1 said,

who knows they might be using a different software and not IQ

Are you an upset Apple fanboy that can't handle the fact that your beloved cult leaders are spying on you or something?

Slayer said,

Are you an upset Apple fanboy that can't handle the fact that your beloved cult leaders are spying on you or something?


Dude... I am an Apple Hater and windows lover just an FYI..
I use Android but luckily my phone dont have the rootkit.... I am just pointing out that its possible.... The same like few months back about location tracking issue with Apple and then finally lot other were busted with same issue... You never know!!

Edited by still1, Dec 1 2011, 11:02pm :

dotf said,
Yet another way that Windows phone 7 lacks when compared with the competition.

(Happy Samsung Focus User).

lol

dotf said,
Yet another way that Windows phone 7 lacks when compared with the competition.

(Happy Samsung Focus User).


Microsoft is a software company.... they could have build a similar software and included in win 7.... you never know.... lets wait for someone to bust it out.

still1 said,

Microsoft is a software company.... they could have build a similar software and included in win 7.... you never know.... lets wait for someone to bust it out.

You do realize that Windows is used by billions of people worldwide right? If they did something that stupid without putting it in their ToS, they would literally be sued into bankruptcy. Think before you type.

Slayer said,

You do realize that Windows is used by billions of people worldwide right? If they did something that stupid without putting it in their ToS, they would literally be sued into bankruptcy. Think before you type.


Billions? Not so sure about that.

Slayer said,

You do realize that Windows is used by billions of people worldwide right? If they did something that stupid without putting it in their ToS, they would literally be sued into bankruptcy. Think before you type.


Samsung, Verizon etc and all the products that are in discussion here are also used by billions of people... You just think before you type...

still1 said,

Samsung, Verizon etc and all the products that are in discussion here are also used by billions of people... You just think before you type...

Not their mobile phones. Also de.bug, find statistics on worldwide household computer averages and then divide that by windows' market share percentage. You will find that i am right.