Lawyers on behalf of a Missouri HTC smartphone owner have filed a class action suit against Carrier IQ and handset makers Samsung and HTC in a Chicago district court, demanding millions in damages for alleged violations of the US Federal Wiretap Act, which forbids secret tapping, recording or collecting of communications without warrant.
Carrier IQ, by its own estimate, is on more than 140 million smartphone, tablet and other mobile devices worldwide. To see if your phone has it, you must root it and run this piece of software to detect and, if you wish, delete it.
Below is a full copy of the complaint against HTC in this matter.
Below is the video from a CT system administrator who started much of the flap. He has released software for Android phones to detect and erase the software.
Why would such a thing potentially violate the US Federal Wiretap Act?
Well, remember the intent of this law is to protect US citizens from warrant-free recording of converstations, tapping of phone lines and intercepting online communications. According to attorneys, a judge ruling that defendents in fact violated this law could garner $100 per day of violation in damages.
I should note that, using the RICO Act, designed to allow warrant-free tapping and tracking of alleged mobsters, is a typical way police get around the Wiretap Act — this especially true since former US President Reagan proclaimed the war on drugs in the 1980s and since the tragic attacks on September 11, 2011.
Carrier IQ, which so far has yet to respond to calls, issued this statement last night after whispers of possible wiretap allegations began circulating the net. Its software has been unknown but tracking data for at least two years, according to observers. According to Wikipedia and its own materials, now missing from the site, the data it collects is for “aggregation” and “analytics” for telcos and hardware makers. Aggregation is big business, enabling firms to precisely customize ads for online users. It is, for instance, the mainstay of Facebook’s financial model.
Carrier IQ’s official statement here:
We measure and summarize performance of the device to assist Operators in delivering better service.
While a few individuals have identified that there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video. For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen.
“Having examined the Carrier IQ implementation it is my opinion that allegations of keystroke collection or other surveillance of mobile device user’s content are erroneous,” asserts Rebecca Bace of Infidel Inc. a respected security expert.
Privacy is protected. Consumers have a trusted relationship with Operators and expect their personal information and privacy to be respected. As a condition of its contracts with Operators, CIQ operates exclusively within that framework and under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction. The data we gather is transmitted over an encrypted channel and secured within our customers’ networks or in our audited and customer-approved facilities.
Carrier IQ is aware of various commentators alleging Carrier IQ has violated wiretap laws and we vigorously disagree with these assertions.
Our software makes your phone better by delivering intelligence on the performance of mobile devices and networks to help the Operators provide optimal service efficiency. We are deployed by leading Operators to monitor and analyze the performance of their services and mobile devices to ensure the system (network and handsets) works to optimal efficiency. Operators want to provide better service to their customers, and information from the device and about the network is critical for them to do this. While in-network tools deliver information such as the location of calls and call quality, they do not provide information on the most important aspect of the service – the mobile device itself.
Carrier IQ acts as an agent for the Operators. Each implementation is different and the diagnostic information actually gathered is determined by our customers – the mobile Operators. Carrier IQ does not gather any other data from devices.
CIQ is the consumer advocate to the mobile operator, explaining what works and what does not work. Three of the main complaints we hear from mobile device users are (1) dropped calls, (2) poor customer service, and (3) having to constantly recharge the device. Our software allows Operators to figure out why problems are occurring, why calls are dropped, and how to extend the life of the battery. When a user calls to complain about a problem, our software helps Operators’ customer service more quickly identify the specific issue with the phone.