Security researcher receives a cease-and-desist for exposing tracking software in Android devices

Security researcher receives a cease-and-desist for exposing tracking software in Android devices
Carrier IQ has come under fire recently for its software that is found on several Android devices, including those manufactured by Samsung and HTC. Reports have surfaced that its tracking software creates detailed logs of everything that occurs on the phone.

Carrier IQ describes itself on its website as “the leading provider of Mobile Service Intelligence Solutions to the Wireless Industry” and released a media alert on November 16th, 2011 offering clarification on how its product is used and the information gathered. Carrier IQ insists that its software is used to monitor the device’s performance so that manufactures can improve the user experience. Carrier IQ says, “While we look at many aspects of a device’s performance, we are counting and summarizing performance, not recording keystrokes or providing 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.

Last week, Trevor Eckhart, the security researcher who found the software and exposed it, received a cease-and-desist letter. Carrier IQ is accusing him of infringing the copyright of Carrier IQ's publicly available training materials that Eckhart included in his research that he posted on Android Security Test. Carrier IQ included a list of demands in the letter, some of which include, retracting the original post, releasing a press release to the AP wire with a statement written by Carrier IQ, and cease and desist from making unsubstantiated allegations and passing any false or unsubstantiated public comment related to Carrier IQ, although Carrier IQ has not clarified which of Eckhart’s postings are considered ‘false’ or ‘unsubstantiated’.

Eckhart has retained the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, as legal council. The EFF claims that fair use and the First Amendment right to free expression protect Eckhart’s use of the training materials.  The EFF states in a letter to Carrier IQ, “Given that there is no basis for your legal claims, we must conclude that your threats are motivated by a desire to suppress Mr. Eckhart’s research conclusions, and to prevent others from verifying those conclusions. Mr. Eckhart stands by his research and, accordingly, declines to meet your demands.

source: EFF via The Verge

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15 Comments

1. daniyo

Posts: 46; Member since: Aug 07, 2011

tf!!!!!! D:< this aint cooll

2. faisal8708

Posts: 104; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

So much for security hahahahaha

3. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Hmm. I can see the usefulness of the tracking software if it measures the system's performance in performing different tasks. Sounds like this is a story ripe to be overhyped though.

7. rf1975

Posts: 264; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

15. JGuinan007

Posts: 699; Member since: May 19, 2011

"Overhyped" Your carrier hid tracking info at the root of your phone in the kernal and it tracks calls, msgs, gps, web pages, nfc transactions, well basically everything you do on YOUR phone and everything you put on it and knows everywhere you took it and you see no problem with this?? Why do they need to track that much info?

4. Scuba_Steve

Posts: 79; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

Sniggly - Agreed. Honestly, I think facebook invades more than this by actually reading my statuses, comments, etc. If they want to track me then so be it. I'm either at work or I'm at home. Can anyone answer my question because I had a customer ask me this and I have heard so many things I don't know what is true or not. "Can/ does carriers keep recordings of text messages?" "If so, can the customer use them in a court of law?"

5. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Yes they need a subpoena and the messages are only kept a short time.

6. Scuba_Steve

Posts: 79; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

Thanks. I have employees from AT&T and T-Mobile telling me that they don't save any information like that and the same time I have Verizon employees telling me that they do. It's just a huge mess trying to figure what's true or not.

8. robinrisk unregistered

Phonearena had aan article on this, some carriers do, some carriers do not. Verizon does keep your messages for a year, Att keeps them for a brief period of time and if i remember correctly, T-Mobile and Sprint only keep your message timestamps. Im sure about the Sprint thing though.

10. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

When I worked for Verizon I had to help a detective go through the proper pecking order to get to someone who could give him what he needed but the bottom line was that yes they did keep records. At least on Verizon.

14. LewsTherin006

Posts: 140; Member since: Nov 18, 2011

I know for a fact Tmobile doesnt keep them in the store, or on their stores computers. Every carrier keeps them, maybe higher up somewhere on a skynet server, but they dont give the stores options to get that information.

9. rob5150

Posts: 183; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

scuba-Steve... You asked facebook to come on to your phone , then allowed facebook to track you with your full knowledge of how intrusive and scary facebook is. carrier iq is a blatant covert application installed by the carriers.

11. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

...deleted....

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

VZW most definately keeps your texts for a time. My understanding is that they all do, in case of a legal need.

13. Hildy

Posts: 34; Member since: Nov 23, 2011

This is the kind of malware that security suites should, but don't, protect against. I don't want parental controls on my children, I want owner controls on my manufacturer and carrier.

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