Carrier IQ software accused of tracking phone users

Carrier IQ has been in the Internet spotlight in the last few days. The Mountain View, California based company creates software that is used in millions of smartphones, including Android and Blackberry-based devices. Carrier IQ claims the software is used to monitor "the performance of mobile devices and networks to assist operators and device manufacturers in delivering high quality products and services to their customers."

But according to a security researcher who looked into the Carrier IQ software, it may be doing far more than that. The researcher, Trevor Eckhart, claimed that Carrier IQ's program was logging every keystroke made by a user on a smartphone that had the software installed. Indeed, he posted a video to YouTube that seems to show that Carrier IQ's application, IQRD, is logging every single button that is pressed into his HTC-based smartphone, even those buttons found on the phone's touch screen. Also, the program cannot be shut off by any known means without replacing the entire operating system.

At first, Carrier IQ objected to Eckhart's accusations and even sent him a cease-and-desist letter. However the company later pulled that letter and apologized to Eckhart. Carrier IQ still insists that its smartphone program does not log keystrokes or have any tracking tools. It also claims the program doesn't look at any email or text messages generated on smartphone nor does it provide any real time data from a user's smartphone to any of its customers.

Despite Carrier IQ's statements, the fact that the program cannot be shut off or deleted by a smartphone user without taking some drastic measures is troubling. So far, Carrier IQ has given no indication that a user can opt out of having that information gathered by the program.

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