AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile confirm using Carrier IQ, say it complies with privacy policies

AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile confirm using Carrier IQ, say it complies with privacy policies
The Carrier IQ scandal is quickly growing out of proportion with all parties involved with the company trying to distance themselves as quickly as possible, and the company on the other hand pointing a finger at carriers. Now, both parties have spoken and all major US carriers except for Verizon have confirmed that they are using the controversial application. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have all required the app to be installed on handsets, but they cite slightly different reasons for that.

On one hand, AT&T and Sprint say that they use Carrier IQ’s app only to improve network performance. HTC and Samsung acknowledged that they were installing the app on their handsets but with the sole reason of carrier requests. The nation’s second biggest carrier, AT&T, issued a response which could be seen as somewhat nervous saying that the software has only been used in accordance with the company’s privacy policy, but not clarifying whether all AT&T handsets have it. "We're really not going to offer more detail than what's in the statement," Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations at AT&T, said. 

Sprint was more willing to clear things up and Spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge-Walsh detailed how the carrier uses Carrier IQ: 

"We collect enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to address any connection problems, but we do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool. The information collected is not sold and we don't provide a direct feed of this data to anyone outside of Sprint." Again, this could reportedly be found in the tiny print of Sprint’s privacy policy.

T-Mobile, on the other hand, claims that it’s using the software to troubleshoot performance issues for the device or network. "T-Mobile does not use this diagnostic tool to obtain the content of text, email or voice messages, or the specific destinations of a customers' internet activity, nor is the tool used for marketing purposes," the carrier insisted.

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The catch about Carrier IQ’s app is that it’s hard to detect and also hard to remove. At the same time, it allows carriers to easily collect sensitive data including your keystrokes, SMS messages and visited websites. Interestingly, this happens even in airplane mode when the phone is not connected to the network. Carrier IQ has tried to deny reality and still defends the position that it’s app doesn’t do all of that, but is rather used only so that carriers can detect dropped calls and battery drain.

On the Carrier IQ side of things, AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski contacted executives at Carrier IQ, who confirmed that it’s all about network providers. They were very specific distancing themselves when speaking about who makes the rules about the gathered information:

“It’s the operator that determines what data is collected. They make that decision based on their privacy standards and their agreement with their users, and we implement it,” Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart said. “We capture only the data they specify, and provide it to them. We don’t capture more than that,” he stressed. 

Below, you’ll find a fresh press release from Carrier IQ, finally being a bit more elaborate about the use of its software. After that, follows a video by the developer Trevor Eckhart who found out about the issue, showing what the software is capable of doing on his HTC EVO 3D. What do you make out of the Carrier IQ's scandal, are you worried about your privacy?

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