/ Technology

Phone companies – be upfront about ‘snooping’ software

Man staring with smartphone

When it comes to tech, it’s difficult to know who to believe. A perfect example is the furore brewing around a company called Carrier IQ, which has been accused of snooping on millions of phone users’ keystrokes.

Trevor Eckhart posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how an HTC smartphone installed with Carrier IQ’s software recorded every key press, website visited – more or less any action performed on the phone.

He also demonstrated how the program was effectively hidden from the user and impossible to close.

As the program is concealed from users, and there’s no dialogue explicitly opting users into the activity, people have understandably assumed the worst. Experts in the US believe the company, and the carriers that have bought and installed the software on phones they sell, may have breached the country’s wire tapping laws.

Whatever the legal ramifications, the companies involved have handed customers yet another reason to distrust them.

Honesty is the best policy

The whole event has eerie parallels to the storm surrounding Apple’s recording of location data on its iPhones. Like Carrier IQ and the US mobile networks, Apple claimed the data was anonymous and was used only to improve the quality of its service – in that instance to improve the speed of the iPhone’s GPS.

It was clear that Apple had little interest in knowing where you were at any given moment – it just doesn’t care that much about individuals! No, the real issue – and it’s the very same problem here – is the risk of someone else getting hold of that information.

Without clear and upfront statements explaining exactly what the implications of this type of tracking software are, it’s easy to understand why people feel they’re being deceived. The sooner companies realise this, the better it’ll be for everyone.

Comments
Profile photo of lombear
Member

I would like to hear from UK mobile operators on this – Go Which? !

Also reminds me of the BT/Phorm trial – companies ignoring privacy in their own interest and only when they are caught do they do anything about it

Profile photo of lombear
Member

Vodafone have a blog post stating they do not use CarrierIQ- Wonder if that extends to any other similar software?

http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Chill-Lounge/Carrier-IQ/m-p/940823#M2566

Profile photo of chris
Member

Its another disguise for GCHQ

who wanted backdoor passes for the new DECT systems when launched, never heard if they got it.

Source: Open University BSc in Techology 1999