Now Federal investigators are probing allegations that Carrier IQ tracking software recorded user activity and sent the information to the cellphone companies without informing consumers, according to government officials, reported the Washington Post.
Executives of the tracking software firm traveled to Washington Tuesday and also met with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is responsible for protecting consumers and enforcing privacy laws.
Carrier IQ, the tracking software company, has said its software is not designed to capture keystrokes or the content of messages, but in some cases that may have happened by accident. The company said it inadvertently collected some SMS messages as the result of a software bug, but the data is intended to help improve user experience with smartphones.
“Carrier IQ has discovered that, due to this bug, in some unique circumstances, such as when a user receives an SMS during a call, or during a simultaneous data session, SMS messages may have unintentionally been included in the layer 3 signalling traffic that is collected by the IQ agent,” the California-based company said in a technical explanation of its software (PDF). “These messages were encoded and embedded in layer 3 signalling traffic and are not human readable.”
Three of the four major cellular providers — AT&T (T), T-Mobile, and Sprint (S) — have said they use Carrier IQ’s tracking software in line with their own privacy policies. A Verizon spokesman said the program is not present on any of the company’s mobile devices. Apple (AAPL) has said it would remove Carrier IQ from iPhones in a future software update.