The Carrier IQ aftermath fingerpointing vague commentary and suspicious behavior

first_imgDevice Model : 9530OS Version : 4.7.0.167Please visit the link below to install the IQ Agent on your RIM Blackberry smartphone.You may be asked if the IQ Agent should be granted certain permissions, or should be considered a “Trusted Application”. You should answer ‘Yes’ to any of these prompts, as the IQ Agent needs access to various system resources in order to collect and upload diagnostic data.Download IQ Agent for Blackberry OS 4.7.0 http://iphone.omc.carrieriq.com/rim/stable/4.7.0/IQAgent.jad And again with Nokia: Device Model : n97-1OS Version : 5th EditionPlease visit the link below to install the IQ Agent on your Nokia Series60 smartphone.You may be asked if the IQ Agent should be granted certain permissions, or should be considered a “Trusted Application”. You should answer ‘Yes’ to any of these prompts, as the IQ Agent needs access to various system resources in order to collect and upload diagnostic data.Download IQ Agent for Series60 5th Editionhttp://iphone.omc.carrieriq.com/s60/stable/5th/iqagent.dd Nokia also has a separate user agent for their Series 60 smartphones, for which Carrier IQ also has something to serve up. There’s clearly more to these situations than the blanket statements and outright finger-pointing that is going on with all three of these companies, but at the moment none of them have been willing to issue additional commentary.If a carrier was installing Carrier IQ on RIM and Nokia phones without their permission, would either of these companies do anything about it?Apple claims to be removing Carrier IQ in a future iOS updateAfter my first Carrier IQ story was published, I got a lot of feedback about Carrier IQ on the iPhone. Plain and simple, it’s a lot harder to find software like that on the iPhone due to the closed nature of the platform. I tried reaching out to several prominent members of the jailbreaking community, but was unable to ever get any concrete information. In fact, the majority response that I got was “Apple wouldn’t allow third party software on their phones like that”. Our sister site, Extremetech.com, even went so far as to claim that with all of the Carrier IQ nonsense going on, a switch to an iPhone might be the better choice for some users. And then, the unthinkable happened — Carrier IQ was discovered on the iPhone.Apple fans certainly did their part to add to the noise surrounding the Carrier IQ situation. Naturally, it didn’t take long for Apple to respond and explain that while they did work with Carrier IQ on the iPhone, and had for some time. They went on to say that the version of the software on the iPhone 4S was significantly less than what had been on previous devices, and that an update would be coming soon to remove Carrier IQ entirely. That response was pretty extreme, in my opinion. While it is true that the Senate was now involved, Carrier IQ has released statements from the beginning proclaiming their innocence in this matter.Few things in the tech world are more complicated then getting an inside track on Apple’s behavior patterns, but it strikes me as more than strange that the company that made the phrase “you are holding the phone wrong” would take such drastic measures to remove Carrier IQ so quickly.Carrier IQ’s finger-pointingThe process in which Carrier IQ functions gives them a pretty surefire way to avoid being held accountable. They make software that is capable of recording and transmitting just about everything you could possibly do on your phone. They make a test application that shows how the service can be used to record events needed to see what happens when call quality issues occur, and then sell the software to their customers to manipulate to their needs. They clearly don’t exist with malicious intent, nor do they seem to be out to steal information for the highest bidder or anything else. These guys are not the devil.They are, however, refusing to take any responsibility for the discoveries that have been made regarding their software. From day one, Carrier IQ reps have claimed that their software complies with the privacy policies of their customers. In this situation, those customers are Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. Each of these customers have different needs from Carrier IQ, and they all get varying amounts of information. However, when questioned further about the software itself, Marketing VP Andrew Coward shifts the blame yet again. This time, however, he looks towards the manufacturers.Let’s say Sprint wants Carrier IQ on one of their phones. Sprint will ask HTC to put the software on that particular model. HTC modifies the Carrier IQ software to the specifications of the carrier, using the tools provided by Carrier IQ. This means that, when a security issue is discovered, the blame is put on HTC for doing such a bad job. Now, it is worth noting that HTC has been entirely too quiet during this entire ordeal. Their last public statement was this:It is important to note that HTC is not a customer or partner of Carrier IQ and does not receive data from the application, the company, or carriers that partner with Carrier IQ. HTC is investigating the option to allow consumers to opt-out of data collection by the Carrier IQ application So now, it seems that HTC is also trying to distance themselves from this situation. This makes even more sense, since they aren’t even a customer. I doubt that Carrier IQ is interested in upsetting their customers, so the perfect scapegoat has been created. I, for one, look forward to HTC publicly speaking against this calling out, as well as their apparent initiative to allow an opt-out for the service.In the end, there are still too many questions left unansweredThis issue is far from being resolved. Carrier IQ attempted to squash this early on by trying to legally silence Trevor Eckhart, and when that backfired they apologized and started to try and spin the blame away from themselves. Meanwhile, none of the original questions have been answered. Walk into a Sprint store tomorrow and ask the sales rep — the person who walks you through the entire sales process including activation — to point out which phones do not have Carrier IQ. I did, and the first two phones the rep tried to give me both had Carrier IQ installed. Consumers are unaware, the employees of these companies are unaware, but the response to the news of this service’s existence makes it clear that the situation is unacceptable.Over the next few weeks, more information on this topic will continue to be unearthed. By January 14th, the companies that have been compelled by Senator Al Franken to define their activities will help bring clarity to this situation. From there, judging from the consumer response so far, my guess is there will be a call for change. The information that Carrier IQ collects, even if they do nothing with it at all, is not something many users feel they have the right to collect.Of course, my cynical side says that if Carrier IQ were to go away tomorrow, they’d just be replaced by someone else. If that’s true, is there a point to this witch hunt, and are we even hunting the right witches? The secret is out. The software that has been tooling around on a variety of handsets for the last couple years has been brought to the attention of the users, and we’re really not happy about it. The software isn’t new, nobody told us about it, and more importantly nobody gave us a choice as to whether or not it was used. The signal-to-noise ratio of those who are unhappy about the discovery of Carrier IQ on such a significant percentage of smartphones out there has made the issue quite difficult to track.It’s been weeks since our first post about Carrier IQ with security researcher Trevor Eckhart, and the speed and intensity of the response to his discovery has been tremendous in such a short time. With an inquiry by Senator Al Franken, who is leading the charge to discover whether or not the software violate wiretapping laws, we’ve also seen an explosion of finger pointing, vague commentary, and suspicious behavior from nearly every company that was purportedly involved at the beginning.Verizon Wireless, Nokia, and RIM claim they have no involvementIn our first story, I claimed that Verizon Wireless’ privacy policy indicated they were the only company that offered anything like an opt-out. In fact, we were contacted shortly after the story was published by Verizon Wireless to correct the statement. Verizon Wireless claims that they are not using Carrier IQ on any of their phones, a statement that was echoed recently by spokesman Jeffrey Nelson. In fact, not a single person has been able to find Carrier IQ on any current generation smartphone on Verizon’s network. More research into whether or not there was clever wordplay involved there needs to be done, perhaps suggesting tablets might have the software is still being conducted, but at the moment the statement remains accurate. Carrier IQ is not on any Verizon Wireless phones.204.235.122.217 – vzw-collector.demo.carrieriq.com204.235.122.218 – vzw-dis.demo.carrieriq.com204.235.122.251 – hupload-vzw99.carrieriq.comThe accusation that Verizon was involved with Carrier IQ did not come from discovering the software on their devices, but rather Verizon’s name in several places on Carrier IQ’s internal network. Now, the links above will not work if you click on them, they only work if you have the correct security certificates. However, if you had access to this link, you would be directed to the internal Carrier IQ hosted deployments. Granted, they do appear to be for demonstration purposes, but it certainly raises some interesting questions. At a bare minimum it tells us that Verizon and Carrier IQ either are in talks or were in talks to do business together.At present, no Verizon Wireless spokesperson has been willing to comment on these links, nor are they willing to comment further on their involvement with Carrier IQ other than to tell us it is not on their phones.When the heat was turned up on this situation, RIM and Nokia both released statements that they did not put Carrier IQ on their phones at all. It was also commented that is Carrier IQ was found on a device, it was put there without permission by the carriers. While there is no way to confirm whether or nor RIM or Nokia are the ones responsible for putting Carrier IQ on their phones, there’s nothing to suggest the statements aren’t valid either. One thing is for sure, however, and that is that Carrier IQ does offer the ability to put their software on both RIM and Nokia phones.If you go to http://iphone.omc.carrieriq.com and your browsers user agent says you are a Blackberry, here’s what you get.last_img