Reps for Carrier IQ, the embattled California tech firm, admitted on Friday that Carrier IQ software does track a "treasure trove" of information, but denied the allegations that it logged every keystroke entered by users. In a long interview with Wired, Carrier IQ exec Andrew Coward said the data culled by the company was collected once a day, and quickly encrypted, to avoid exposing sensitive information.
"We do recognize the power and value of this data," Coward, the chief marketing officer of Carrier IQ, told Wired. "We’re very aware that this information is sensitive. It’s a treasure trove." Coward added that although some URLs are transmitted to carriers "as a diagnostic tool," Carrier IQ software does not actually store the content of websites, text messages, apps, or phone calls.
Early last week, Android developer Trevor Eckhart published a video, alleging that Carrier IQ – which services Sprint, RIM, and HTC, among others – was surreptitiously logging the keystrokes of mobile users. Almost immediately, hardware manufacturers and carriers sought to distance themselves from Carrier IQ. While the issue mostly affects Android phones on Sprint and AT&T, Apple hinted that a few of its devices used Carrier IQ; a future software update, Apple reps said, would banish the software completely.
"Carrier IQ is used to understand what problems customers are having with our network or devices so we can take action to improve service quality," Sprint reps said in a statement. "It collects enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to devise solutions to use and connection problems. We do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool."
Still, many users were up in arms, and Paul Ohm, a law professor at the University of Colorado Law School went so far as to suggest that Carrier IQ could actually be held liable for violating the rights of users. And hey, what do you know? By late last week, at least four separate lawsuits against Carrier IQ had been filed, including a class action suit filed in San Jose.