Sen. Al Franken

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., didn't like what he'd heard about the whole Carrier IQ saga. And after receiving answers from the analytics company, he still doesn't like what he hears. On Thursday,  Franken, chairman of the Senate Subcommitte on Privacy, Technology and the Law, issued a statement on the reponses he received.

More analysis

Franken released the following statement:

"I appreciate the responses I received, but I'm still very troubled by what's going on," said Sen. Franken. "People have a fundamental right to control their private information. After reading the companies' responses, I'm still concerned that this right is not being respected. The average user of any device equipped with Carrier IQ software has no way of knowing that this software is running, what information it is getting, and who it is giving it to-and that's a problem.  It appears that Carrier IQ has been receiving the contents of a number of text messages-even though they had told the public that they did not.  I'm also bothered by the software's ability to capture the contents of our online searches-even when users wish to encrypt them.  So there are still many questions to be answered here and things that need to be fixed."

We've long contended that the carriers that pay for the use of Carrier IQ's analytics tools deserve as much -- if not more so -- attention as the company whose services have led to one of the more hot-button smartphone issues of the past several years. And to that end, Franken sought and received responses from AT&T and Sprint, as well as manufacturers Samsung and HTC. (T-Mobile and Motorola have until Dec. 20 to respond.) Here's a summation:

Sprint

"Sprint recognizes that it is fair to ask whether the data collected using Carrier IQ software goes beyond "technical dianostics information," and Sprint's answer is unequivocally no."

AT&T

"AT&T uses CIQ software only to collect diagnostic information about its network to improve the customer experience. We do not use CIQ to obtain the contents of customers' communications, to track where our customers go on the Internet, or to track customer location. The information collected is protected in secure storage with restricted access."

Samsung

"Samsung installs Carrier IQ software only at the instruction of Cellular carriers, and does so in the exact manner and in the configuration required by the carrier and Carrier IQ. The carrier is exclusively responsible for selecting the types of information transmitted by the Carrier IQ software to the carrier on the carrier's network without intervention by Samsung. Samsung does not receive data generated by the Carrier IQ software."

HTC

"The wireless service providers, to the best of HTC's knowledge, use the software and data collected for service-related purposes.  HTC does not use the Carrier IQ software for its own purposes; our involvement with the Carrier IQ software and service is limited to integrating the Carrier IQ software into certain HTC devices. This integration is required by the wireless service providers and performed under contract and per their
specifications."

And so we tumble a little farther down the rabbit hole. We're all still very much in the information-gathering stage. Whether carriers will have to change the way they collect dianostic data -- be it through legislation or public outcry -- remains to be seen.

Source:  U.S. Sen. Al Franken
More: Responses from AT&T, Sprint, Samsung, HTC

 

Reader comments

Sen. Al Franken gets answers from Carrier IQ, carriers -- 'still very troubled by what's going on'

59 Comments

Funny! Very funny!

But seriously ... who else seems to care that we are cementing 1984 as a way of life. I mean ... Reagan didn't have a chimp in the White House (Nancy doesn't count) ... so why make fun of someone who is looking out for you. It seems like the lack of respect these days just gets worse and worse ... ya friggin mouth breather.

I agree that CarrierIQ is horrible software. However, I don't agree that the government should be involved in this battle. It's the users that need to battle. Users need to take a stand and refuse to purchase devices preloaded with CarrierIQ. The first carrier to do away with it will be the one that wins customers over. Getting the government involved will just cause the carriers to raise prices to cover their additional overhead costs of complying with the convoluted paperwork and reporting that the government will no doubt require.

I understand where your coming from. I am a hands off kind of person as well.
However, If the government suspects possible misconduct, I do not mind an investigation as long as they then only publish their findings so "The People" can act on what was found (if anything). Unless of course there is something seriously criminal underneath that no one knows about yet, I do not see any need for Government action beyond making CIQ's actions transparent for all to see.

Yeah but the Government is suppose to represent us. I kniow we are not used to them doing so but in this case I think its a good thing.

No, if a company is breaking privacy laws written in our books, they should be held accountable. You wouldn't take kindly for an individual to be illegally spying, so don't give companies a free pass from laws you and I have to follow.

Hah! Good one! I am sure Verizon will be very receptive when I tell them I want out of the 12 months I have left on my contract, so that I can leave for a carrier that doesn't use any spyware software (if one ever exists). The problem here is that this was hidden from consumers, and they basically have no retribution for the deception AND can't even "vote with their feet" for many many months. Seems like a pretty clear case where the government should act in the interest of the people.

You do realize that Verizon doesn't use CarrierIQ, right? I wouldn't be surprised if they use some other software to accomplish similar data retrieval that CIQ does, but they aren't lumped in with Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile.

Good luck using that tactic to get out of your contract with Verizon, haha.

Your missing the point. Nobody knew it was on their phones. I have had my Evo for 18 months or so. They have been collecting data I did but give then permission to from day one. How am I our any other user, supposed to "take a stand" if I don't know it's there? This is the kind of protecting the Government should be doing.

The simpleton and ignorant bleating of keeping the gov't out of everything really needs to die a quick death. Those who continue to think that way, show a complete and utter lack of understanding of what the gov't is for and how it is supposed to work. It was the lack of intervention that led to the housing crisis, the bad economy, and high unemployment. Get your head out of your ass and quit listening to what Fox tells you.

I agree, the government is there to enforce laws and if a corporation is violating them then they need to be charged. They can also force the carriers to remove the spyware.

The housing crisis was cause by the government. Legislation signed by Bill Clinton that took away regulation from Fannie & Freddie. encouraging them to lend to people who didn't typically qualify for loans. just the facts ma'am just the facts.

This is very true. The idea was the force lenders to give to impoverish individuals who normally couldn't get a loan for home. Ideologically this was a great idea; however, pragmatically it lead to most/all of the subprime loans. We know the rest. This was not the entire problem of course but if you don't think this a massive part of what caused the "bubble" you are ignorant to supple/demand economics. This was direct govt intervention into a market where they failed. I'm not a complete free market politics guy as that can be ideological as well but those are some of the facts like them or not

/education

That being said, I'm very happy Franken is going to work here. I think the Govt should have a very limited purpose and this is one of them.

"The idea was the force lenders to give to impoverish individuals who normally couldn't get a loan for home."

Except....they didn't. This is a myth perpetuated by the Wall Street fat cats who want to deflect attention away from their disgusting actions.

"Except....they didn't. This is a myth perpetuated by the Wall Street fat cats who want to deflect attention away from their disgusting actions."

The Myth is that you believe that. Those Fat Cats took advantage for sure. But the culprit for all of this was Community Reinvestment Act. It was used as a club to all the institutions to get those loans out. Otherwise their Charters were threatened. I don't know how old you are. I was working in the 80's when all this came on gangbusters. I saw the pickets at institutions that were threatened by the same groups our esteemed Prez worked for. Just the whiff of possible red lining was enough for the banks to roll over and play along. Even though they knew better. As much as you want to blame the Big Bad Wall Street Fat Cats, they are a side show to what WASHINGTON did to us.

garbage .. freddie and fannie we part of it but those two entities DID NOT PACKAGE UP BAD mortgages and sell them as Grade A securities. They didn't shuffle loans around so much that no one bloody knows who owns what. THEY played a part but if you think it was the Gov, Freddie and Fannie that caused it .. you know noooothing and should stop just watching Faux Noise. Seriously. Learn something before regurgitating the same old rightwing drivel.

Let me clarify that I don't watch Fox news.

An environment was created by legislation that allowed for lenders to lend to people that didn't qualify for loans. To bring more people in the middle class. Not many people turn down an opportunity to make more money at even faster rates. You can verify that yourself.

And I encourage anyone who chooses to insult a company or a person because they differ from their own to stop. It doesn't paint you as a better person and doesn't help your case.

"The housing crisis was cause by the government. Legislation signed by Bill Clinton that took away regulation from Fannie & Freddie. encouraging them to lend to people who didn't typically qualify for loans. just the facts ma'am just the facts."

This is simply not true. It's a myth perpetuated by Fox News. It's true that a bill that Clinton signed was a big contributor to this mess. However, the bill allowed banks to take the mortgage money and gamble it via exotic instruments (e.g. derivatives).

Just the facts ma'am, just the facts.

And when all the carriers decide to put it on their phones you are OK with going back to phone booths and pagers?

I'm getting a little tired of the thinking that says companies can do what ever they want as long as you can walk away.

What part of "Its MY PHONE " don't you understand?

OK. The teabagger mentality is just too OVER. If it wasn't for the Gov. we'd never have anything we take for granted. I suppose we should abolish the laws governing child labor? No? Or the food safety laws? No? Or how about MOST of our Constitution? It is a Government document ... and it does provide protects just like what Franken is going after with these carriers. You seriously can say what you said above with a straight face .... must be yet another under 30, undereducated mouth breather who talks about things for which they have NO HISTORICAL reference for.

Just sad. Maybe you should read some Upton Sinclair and realize what it was like back when we really did have a "you're on your own society" ... maybe go back and look at what Teddy Roosevelt did during the late 1800's as far as putting his REPUBLICAN boot on these corporations who harm the public.

Clueless child and if you are older then 30 ... your still a clueless child like person with no conception of what has transpired.

MOST of our Constitution? It is a Government document ...

Ooohhh, somebody wasn't paying attention in Junior High.....

Clue: First three words: "WE THE PEOPLE"

Like Al, I am troubled too. Trouble that there is a state stoopid enough to vote Al in as Senator. He is a worse Senator than he was a "comedian".

How very true, why is it that the same bunch of goons who corrupt the political atmosphere that voted for bailouts, stimulus, omnibus etc. are more qualified and competent in addressing carrier IQ and other issues. Why can't the government get the hell out of the way, they only help metastasize these issue.

All of the libertarians need to move to their own island. They can call it "Randland". Then, they can apply their loony "government is always bad" philosophy. It would be fun to see the society melt down in a generation or two.

As a Minnesotan, I completely agree with you. But if you look, the state I live in has a long and glorious history of voting for the dumb candidate every once in a while.

-Suntan

Franken isn't dumb. Far from it. You can disagree with his politics all you want but to call him dumb simply highlights your ignorance.

My hope is the end result is that the Government forces the carriers to replace all ~50 million phones that have this software installed (as the rumor is the the software is deeply imbedded into the programming). Taking a multi million dollar would hopefully teach the carriers a lesson.

(Of course they will just jack up the price to the consumers to cover the costs.)

Multi million? More like multi BILLION!!

Sprint alone has >26 million devices using CIQ. Even $150 per device would be $3.9 billion. Sorry, but it's never going to happen.

Flashing a custom ROM can remove CIQ (it's just software) & the carriers can do it just as easily with an OTA update.

I try to live my life in a way where what I say and do, I don't really care who knows - so I'm not really that phased.

That doesn't mean that this is ok though. People obviously have a right to privacy.

I think that out of all the things the government does (which is too much), this is one of the things they should be keeping an eye on. It's a touchy subject - where do you draw the line between profitability, and personal privacy?

But with all the crap that goes on that is unconstitutional - I doubt this will end in the peoples favor.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Someone needs a constitutional refresher class.

This protection isn't just aimed at government search and seizures. It applies across the board to government as well as the companies you do business with.

Uh, no.... it doesn't. It DOES only apply to government.

As an example:

I can and do refer to Obama as an "Anti-American, Empty Suited, racist bigot."

My right to say so is guaranteed.

If, however, I worked for him and told him that, or said it to someone else that then told him that, his right to fire me for saying that is pretty much established as well.

While you give up certain rights to work for someone else, the Constitutional rights you're referring to do not.... DO NOT... apply to private sector applications.... thus, their right to, for example, require that you undergo periodic and random drug testing is just one example where it does NOT apply.

The Constitution only embodies restrictions on government. The difference is that between a "statute right" and a "Constitutional right."

So, to that end, I agree. You really should attend a Constitutional refresher class.

You cannot be more wrong. Constitutional rights apply to all areas, Government and private sectors alike.

That's the difference between the our country and one run by other means (Dictatorship, communism, etc.) If you worked for Obama, you have every right to call him an "Anti-American, Empty Suited, racist bigot." How do you know your rights are protected? You don't go to jail or get killed. Will you lose your job? Maybe.

Just because you have rights doesn't mean they don't come with responsibilities or consequences.

And the conditions for employment at most businesses require at least an initial drug screening. Again, you have the right to refuse any drug screening at work. Will you be arrested? No. Will you lose your job? Yes. Consequence.

Do you think for one minute the cable and phone companies don't capture data about your internet usage, should we go after those people also. Wait doesn't GM have a product in cars that captures information about you when you drive so if you have a problem you can ask for help. And if I'm correct doesn't the Government own over half of GM.

So Senator Frankin, shouldn't you investigate your own doings before going after the Cell carriers and other big business. Please demonstrate how CIQ is hurting the public that owns the phones. How CIQ is killing innocent babies and women with there evil technology.

I need to move out of MN, I can't figure out how our state keeps electing such wacky people for important offices. ie, Jessie Ventura. Its embarrassing.

There absolutely is such an expectation.

There are people in jail right now for hacking the email of others. Part of that is the "expectation" of privacy."

Franken's the least competent person in any room he's in. In other words, the perfect person to deal with this stupid CIQ media frenzy. Maybe when he's done with this he and the other morons on capital hill will get together and actually pass a budget. But then again, probably not.

How about consolidating the last 6 stories about Carrier IQ into one, While we are at it consolidate the 200 Nexus stories and maybe anything with *Galaxy*

Minnesota finally got something right when they put Franken in Coleman's seat. It was disgusting that the seat went to Coleman in the first place.

I'm still troubled that Al Franken is still a senator. Please MN get your act together and vote the joker out next year.

Sorry, he's gonna be there til 2014. Senate seat is a 6 year term, and he was elected 2008. Maybe Dana Carvey will move here and we can elect him.

Franken is one the best Senators we have. He actually has passion and sticks it to the man from time to time.

You can judge the quality of a critique by the strength of the arguments within. It's telling that "he's a moron" serves as cogent argument within the anti-Franken crowd.

Just a note to everyone who's saying the part in the Constitution ONLY applies to the govt. And not the private sector???? If we are neighbors and I believe you stole something out of my yard, I have absolutely NO right to enter your house and search through your belongings to find it, hence almost exactly as it is written, I would need a search warrant to do so, so no, it most definiatly extends to persons and businesses not limited to the govt. =)

"Just a note to everyone who's saying the part in the Constitution ONLY applies to the govt. And not the private sector???? If we are neighbors and I believe you stole something out of my yard, I have absolutely NO right to enter your house and search through your belongings to find it, hence almost exactly as it is written, I would need a search warrant to do so, so no, it most definiatly extends to persons and businesses not limited to the govt. =)"

First, if you yourself did this it's called breaking and entering. Possibly upgraded to burglary.

Second, you as a private citizen can not get a warrant to do that either.

The police or other government institution would need to get a warrant for that. That is how their powers are defined.

Works the same for a Business as an individual. They can't do a search either. They can petition the police and authorities to do a search warrant. They themselves though can't do the search.

The Constitution yes applies for everyone. Those restrictions and powers though are not mutual or binding.