Monday, December 5, 2011

Carrier IQ, Apple, HTC, Samsung as well as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile sued over Federal wiretap laws

In what is sure to be one of many class-action lawsuits being filed over this Carrier IQ issue, a suit naming phone makers Apple, HTC, Samsung and Motorola, as well as Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T has been filed in Deleware Federal Court. The suit also names the company that makes the offending diagnostic software, Carrier IQ.

The suit claims that the use of the Carrier IQ software on mobile phones consists of a “breach of the digital privacy rights of 150 million cell phone users.”

The suit claims that the phone makers and carriers violated the Federal Wiretap Acr, the Stored Electronic Communications Act and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The suit says that the carriers and manufacturers were caught “willfully violating customers’ privacy rights” by “secretly tracking personal and sensitive information of the cell phone users without the consent or knowledge of the users.”

It has been posited that the Carrier IQ software, which tracks various pieces of personal information of smartphone users—ostensibly for diagnostic reasons—violates these wiretap laws and this suits plaintiffs appear to be confident of it.

On Nov. 30, 2011, the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary said in a letter to Carrier IQ that “these actions may violate federal privacy laws.” It added, “this is potentially a very serious matter.”

While this is still spreading throughout the tech community, it has yet to really hit in a big way on national media, although it has begun. This whole issue is going to get a ton of attention before it’s over, and if carriers were found to implement the capabilities of Carrier IQ improperly, they could be in breach of Federal laws.

Although it would seem that the trend to string Carrier IQ up by the heels continues nearly unabated, in the end it looks like the way that the carriers, perhaps in collusion with some manufacturers and perhaps not, chose to use the software is the big issue here. I have a feel

This is the third class-action suit to be announced over this issue, two more have been put forth in California and Missouri.

Apple, for its part, has said that it ceased using the Carrier IQ software with the release of iOS 5 and never used its full potential. There is an app out for those of you with Android devices if you’d like to see whether or not your device is running the snooping software. The U.S. Senate has sent an inquiry to Carrier IQ — later amended to direct itself to the carriers — that asks just what the software tracks and how it is used to gather customer information.

If you want to read our take on Carrier IQ, head to Carrier IQ and Your Phone: Everything You Need to Know.

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