Sen. Al Franken on Wednesday released data about how T-Mobile and Motorola use Carrier IQ software. Both companies denied any wrongdoing, and said Carrier IQ is only used for diagnostic purposes.
Motorola said the software is available on four of its devices, but said it has no control over how Carrier IQ information is accessed or collected. T-Mobile, meanwhile, has it installed on nine handsets and said Carrier IQ is "pre-loaded" on its phones rather than embedded at the manufacturing level, providing more limited access to user data.
Carrier IQ made headlines in recent weeks after a researcher, Trevor Eckhart, suggested that the technology is secretly embedded on many popular phones and can gather personal data about users. Carrier IQ said its technology is used for diagnostic purposes and denied logging keystrokes or being able to read the content of emails, text messages, or Web sites.
Sen. Franken penned letters to Carrier IQ, as well as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Samsung, HTC, and Motorola—all companies that use Carrier IQ in some capacity—asking them for more details about its use on their devices. Last week, his office published the responses from AT&T, Sprint, Samsung, and HTC, with T-Mobile and Motorola's replies being made public today.
Motorola's response was quite brief. Motorola added Carrier IQ to four of its phones at the request of Sprint and AT&T, including the Admiral and Titanium from Sprint and the Bravo and Atrix 2 from AT&T.
Beyond that, however, Motorola had no info. "Motorola Mobility neither received nor had access to any data collected by the Carrier IQ software, with the exception of approximately 125 devices used for testing the Carrier IQ software implementation," Dale Stone, senior vice president of government relations for Motorola, wrote to Sen. Franken.
T-Mobile, meanwhile, said Carrier IQ is on nine phones: the HTC Amaze 4G; Samsung Galaxy S II; Samsung Exhibit II 4G; LG Doubleplay; T-Mobile MyTouch and MyTouch Q for LG; and the BlackBerry 9900, 9360, and 9810. The software was first installed in May 2011 on phones that hit the market in August.
Thomas J. Sugrue, senior vice president of regulatory and legal affairs at T-Mobile, said T-Mobile uses something known as the "pre-load" method when it comes to Carrier IQ rather than having it embedded at the manufacturing level. This "only allows access to Operating System API data that is available to application developers," Sugrue said. The embedded option, he said, "permits access to broader data."
Instead, T-Mobile has access to data about the nearest cell phone tower when a customer has a performance issue, as well as the telephone numbers dialed by users and the phone numbers of individuals calling a user.
T-Mobile said about 450,000 of its customers have devices with Carrier IQ software installed. Customer service reps have access to that data for 30 days after collection, while T-Mobile's "products realization" team has access for 45 days.
Last week, Sen. Franken said he was still "troubled" by Carrier IQ after the four other companies' responses. "People have a fundamental right to control their private information," Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, said in a statement. "After reading the companies' responses, I'm still concerned that this right is not being respected."
Sprint on Friday said it has "disabled use" of Carrier IQ on its handsets. For more, see Which Carriers, Handset Makers Use Carrier IQ?