While phone manufacturers have been passing the buck and Carrier IQ itself tried to deny any wrong-doing over its snooping software, in a fit of honesty three providers are openly admitting to using the spying application.
Of course, how far they're willing to go in explaining how they're using it is — unsurprisingly — limited. So, let's take a look at what they've been saying in turn.
AT&T has confirmed that its mobile handsets use the software — but only for legitimate services and quality-related purposes. Speaking to Computer World, Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations at AT&T, refused to explain if Carrier IQ is present on all its handsets, whether users are notified of its presence in any way, or whether there's an option to disable the software. In that creepy way that media spokesman from large corps talk, he told Computer World:
"We're really not going to offer more detail than what's in the statement."
But, as we say, there really isn't a lot in the statement in the first place. Shame, AT&T.
Next: Sprint, who has also confirmed that its handsets use the software but only for legitimate services. Sprint, however, is more willing to talk about things than AT&T. Speaking to Computer World, spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge-Walsh said Sprint uses Carrier IQ's data to work out how handsets are performing and to identify problems sooner:
"We collect enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to address any connection problems, but we do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool.... The information collected is not sold and we don't provide a direct feed of this data to anyone outside of Sprint."
Which is reassuring. In the same way that finding out that your girlfriend has cheated on you, but "it didn't really mean anything", is reassuring.
Finally, T-Mobile has also admitted to using Carrier IQ as a diagnostic tool, in a similar way to Sprint. In an email to Computer World, a T-Mobile spokesperson said:
"T-Mobile does not use this diagnostic tool to obtain the content of text, email or voice messages, or the specific destinations of a customers' internet activity, nor is the tool used for marketing purposes."
None of which is particularly comforting, as it seems no provider is intending to remover Carrier IQ any time soon, or even allow users to opt out. Unless, of course, you're with Verizon, who insist that they don't use Carrier IQ at all.
The issue's set to run, so to keep on top of things, stay tuned to #stopspying. [Computer World]
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