More Privacy Concerns With Everyone’s Smartphones, & This One Is Big

by on December 3, 2011

in consumer

Consumer news, Consumer alerts and a Consumer's opinionHere’s something for your consumer awareness:  While tinkering around with his Android based phone, Trevor Eckhart discovered something interesting underneath the hood.  A piece of software that was recording EVERYTHING you did with and/or on your phone.  Including your keystrokes.

Yea, it’s the big brother syndrome all over again.   But even though the focus in the source article is the Android system, this was on multiple  carriers.

But in this case, it’s on all our phones, from a company based out here in Mountain View, CA, called Carrier IQ.

This might explain, if you had received them too, the emails from Verizon Wireless trying to explain privacy controls from the company.  I’ve received two of them explaining that they were tracking various functions of my phone’s usage.

But any how, Carrier IQ had been contracted by Verizon, and other phone companies to track phone behavior.  The frightening part is that the software, in it’s process of tracking things, also recorded things such as keystrokes.

And that sucks, considering the private financial deeds and other kinds of personal things we do on our phones, it’s downright insidious.

Last Friday, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., took the lead and sent a letter to the company, demanding answers.

And I too want to know what they think gives them the right to record our keystrokes.  But therein lies a more interesting question, because Carrier IQ says that they’re confused about that also.  It seems that the phone carrier companies had added software to capture information at that level.

Some third party researchers seem to back up that perspective.

Carrier IQ says they collect the data to help phone companies see the summarized performance of devices and help deliver better service.

Motorala DROID X SmartphoneTo be honest, I’m not surprised.  All our phones, cable boxes, TiVo boxes and what not are just workstations attached to a big, really big network.  All networks track data in one form or another and phone usage being tracked does not surprise me.

Computers have the ages-old “cookie” text file that have been around since the first days of personal computing.

TiVo and the like record actions in their central servers.  We all were made aware of that when Janet Jackson had her Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction and TiVo reported how it was the most replayed event in their service.

My associates have told me that our phones are hack proof and I’m a bit silly, but crap like this makes me leary of my service provider, not the hackers.

It’s moments like this that make me feel validated about my premise that my phone is not as secure as possible.   I’ll be patient about using my phone for personal matters until things like this get smoothed over.


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