Verizon, Nokia: Carrier IQ software is not on our phones
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) are among the companies denying assertions that their mobile devices have shipped with the controversial Carrier IQ application, which a security researcher claims can log smartphone user information like location data and web browsing.
Researcher Trevor Eckhart, who first discovered the Carrier IQ software on an Android smartphone manufactured by HTC, alleges that the app secretly records user behaviors across more than 140 million handsets. Eckhart adds that in some cases, the technology is buried so deep in the device's core code that only those with "advanced skills" would be able to sniff it out. Carrier IQ responded to Eckhart's claims with a cease-and-desist letter, which it has since withdrawn--the firm later issued a statement arguing its services count and measure operational information and do not record keystrokes or provide tracking tools.
"The metrics and tools we derive are not designed to deliver such information, nor do we have any intention of developing such tools," Carrier IQ maintains. "The information gathered by Carrier IQ is done so for the exclusive use of that customer, and Carrier IQ does not sell personal subscriber information to third parties." Carrier IQ adds that all information derived from devices is encrypted and secured within the operator customer's network or in its audited and customer-approved facilities.
Although the Carrier IQ story is still developing, Verizon Wireless categorically denies that it has integrated the software into any of its devices. "To be 100% clear: Carrier IQ is *not* on Verizon Wireless phones," spokesman Jeffrey Nelson tweeted Thursday morning.
Nokia is also refuting Eckhart's earlier claims that Carrier IQ is integrated into its smartphones. "Nokia is aware of inaccurate reports which state that software from CarrierIQ has been found on Nokia devices," the handset maker said in email. "CarrierIQ does not ship products for any Nokia devices, so these reports are wrong."
Citing "an extremely reliable source," The Verge reports that Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android devices the Nexus One, Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus do not contain Carrier IQ software, nor does Motorola Mobility's (NYSE:MMI) Android-powered Xoom tablet.
The Carrier IQ controversy appears likely to renew the public debate around mobile user privacy and data security. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate both proposed new restrictions on how both government agencies and private firms can collect and implement user location data. Specifically, the bills mandate that companies including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google and their software developer partners obtain express consent from smartphone and tablet users before sharing information with third parties.
In September, the Federal Trade Commission also outlined a series of revisions to the decade-old Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, proposing to revamp the legislation to cover smartphone apps, social media sites and other recent technological advances inadequately addressed by existing regulations. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act requires companies to obtain parental consent before collecting any personal data about a child under the age of 13. The FTC proposes expanding the definition of personal information to include a child's location, personal data collected via cookies for targeted advertising and facial recognition technology.
FTC moves to tighten digital privacy protection rules for kids
Legislation mandates companies get consent before sharing location data
Senator pressures Apple, Google to mandate developer privacy policies
Senators call for smartphone location tracking law
Apple, Google urged to police developer location data use