Congress Wants Answers on Carrier IQ Privacy Issues - Technologist
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Congress Wants Answers on Carrier IQ Privacy Issues

A team of tech-savvy lawmakers is requesting a Carrier IQ Congressional hearing about potential privacy risks facing millions of U.S. smartphone users.

The call for a Carrier IQ hearing follows weeks of online and offline debate about Carrier IQ and its software's effects. The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee now gets to decide whether to hold a Congressional hearing, PCWorld reports. It's not clear when he'll announce a decision.

Carrier IQ, based in Mountain View, Calif., makes software that allows wireless companies to diagnose the health of their networks by relaying certain data from a user's smartphone.

But an independent software researcher found Carrier IQ's software seems to do much more -- without phone users' knowledge or consent.

Trevor Eckhart's research showed Carrier IQ's software was apparently capturing keystrokes, web browsing histories, and other smartphone data, PCWorld reports. Congress wants to know more.

Companies including AT&T, Sprint, Apple, HTC, and Samsung admitted Carrier IQ's software has been embedded in their phones for years. Lawsuits accuse the companies of violating federal wiretap laws.

Now, concerned members of Congress -- Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.; G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.; and Diana DeGette, D-Colo. -- are requesting a Carrier IQ hearing, PCWorld reports. If approved, the hearing would try to answer questions such as:

  • What does Carrier IQ's software actually do in terms of data collection, analysis, and transmission?
  • What security and privacy risks are linked to Carrier IQ's data collection and transmission?
  • What are the disclosure practices of wireless carriers and smartphone makers?
  • What privacy protections are built in?

Carrier IQ has already provided details about its software to Congress, a Carrier IQ spokeswoman said. "We look forward to answering any further questions that may arise" at a Carrier IQ Congressional hearing, she told PCWorld.

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