New Information about Carrier IQ Software Sparks Concerns that Wireless Carriers Have Violated Federal Anti-Wiretapping Laws
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Michael Hoven
Last month, a security researcher from Connecticut published information about a software program installed on some mobile smartphones that may be surreptitiously collecting data about how the phones are used. The software, called Carrier IQ and manufactured by a company of the same name, has been described as hard to detect, hard to remove, and programmed to run by default without the user’s knowledge. The scandal escalated last week when Senator Al Franken sent a letter to Carrier IQ asking for details about the software and the company’s business practices. Privacy analysts are concerned that the software violates the Federal Wiretap Act, as amended by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which forbids the intercepting of “wire, oral or electronic communication” and authorizes penalties of $100 per day for each violation. 18 U.S.C. §§ 2511, 2520. Other commentators have suggested that Carrier IQ may also violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. 18 U.S.C. § 1030. So far, at least eight class action lawsuits have been filed against Carrier IQ and various device makers and wireless carriers.
Computerworld provides a general overview of the Carrier IQ software and the recent scandal. For a more detailed analysis of the legal issues, see Forbes, paidContent.org, and Talking Points Memo. (more…)