Lawmakers Go After Carrier IQ Over Privacy Concerns

Company has "questions to answer"

Carrier IQ, a company that sells real-time diagnostic tracking software to wireless carriers, has found itself in the crosshairs of Congress over privacy concerns. Worries were raised when an Android developer, Trevor Eckhart, posted a video showing the detailed personal information Carrier IQ software logs, including every consumer keystroke and geolocation data.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology & the Law, sent a letter to Carrier IQ to find out what kind of information the company tracks and what it does with the data. Franken also sent letters to AT&T, HTC, Samsung, and Sprint, companies that together have installed the software on 150 million smartphones, asking the companies what they did with the information produced by Carrier IQ's software.

Ed Markey, D-Mass., and co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the company. 

"The revelation that the locations and other sensitive data of millions of Americans are being secretly recorded and possibly transmitted is deeply troubling," Franken said in the release. "This news underscores the need for Congress to act swifly to protect the location information and private, sensitive information of consumers. But right now, Carrier IQ has a lot of questions to answer."

Franken has already held hearings to delve into the location data tracked by Apple and Google on mobile phones, leading him to introduce the Location Privacy Protection Act. That bill would require companies like Carrier IQ to obtain permission from consumers before tracking their location information or before sharing it with companies.

In an emailed statement, Carrier IQ denied it tracks personal information as described by Eckhart. "We count and summarize performance; we do not record key strokes, capture screen shots, SMS, email or record conversations. Our software does not collect the content of messages," the statement read. "Consumers have a trusted relationship with operators and expect their personal information and privacy to be respected. CIQ operates exclusively within that framework and under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction as a trusted provider."