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Privacy Scare for Android

You probably have never heard of Carrier IQ, but there’s a chance the company knows all about you.

The Mountain View, California-based firm’s software has been installed on millions of phones. Trevor Eckhart, an Android developer based in Connecticut, discovered it on an Android phone and analyzed what it does. He realized that the software secretly logs key strokes - pretty much records everything you are doing. He made a video about it.

Watch it and you can see the software logs text messages and encrypted web searches. On this phone at least Carrier IQ is grabbing most everything the user is doing. However, it appears the software behaves differently on different phones. On the iPhone it appears to collect less information and only sends it to carriers during diagnostic tests.

Carrier IQ says it does not log key strokes and the software helps identify "dropped calls and poor service" and "makes customer service quicker, more accurate, and more efficient."
The dispute between Eckhart and Carrier IQ has been simmering for about a week. Eckhart labled it a “root kit.” Them’s fighting words. Basically he’s saying  Carrier IQ built a secret back door to spy on what cell phone customers are doing. One law professor is suggesting the company is violating wiretapping laws.

Carrier IQ responded by threatening to sue Eckhart then backed of when the the Electronic Freedom Foundation came to his aid.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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