Sprint

Sprint today told Android Central that it is no longer using Carrier IQ to collect diagnostic data from its devices. The statement comes in response to our asking Sprint about an anonymously sourced report on Geek.com under the headline "Sprint orders all OEM’s to strip Carrier IQ from their hardware." Said Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge-Walsh:

"That report does not appear to be accurate."

Vinge-Walsh did go on to tell us that Sprint has "weighed customer concerns and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected. We are further evaluating options regarding this diagnostic software as well as Sprint’s diagnostic needs.

"At Sprint, we work hard to earn the trust of our customers and believe this course of action is in the best interest of our business and customers."

HTC, also cited in Geek.com's report as an anonymous source, had no comment and referred us to Sprint.

Not collecting data is a far cry from "stripping" the Carrier IQ code out of its phones, but it also makes far more sense, at least in the short term. Flipping a switch to cease collecting data undoubtedly is easier (and cheaper) than rewriting ROMs for the 17 or so devices it told U.S. Sen. Al Franken contained Carrier IQ. That's not going to make the die-hard Android hackers happy, but chances are they're already stripped the ROM anyway. Not including Carrier IQ software in future updates and new releases would make sense as Sprint's not collecting the data anymore anyway.

As for the causal (read: normal) Android user, you can rest easy in knowing that Sprint's no longer using Carrier IQ to collect its analytics data. We've got Sprint's full statement after the break.

More analysis

From Sprint:

We have weighed customer concerns and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected.  We are further evaluating options regarding this diagnostic software as well as Sprint’s diagnostic needs.   At Sprint, we work hard to earn the trust of our customers and believe this course of action is in the best interest of our business and customers.

To reiterate, Sprint does not look at the content of customer messages, emails, photos, videos, keystrokes, etc. using the diagnostic tools offered by Carrier IQ.  Customers can trust that we look at only enough information through the Carrier IQ tool reporting aggregated, anonymized metrics, to understand the customer experience with devices and how we can improve our performance and enhance the customer experience.

Further, as we’ve said, Sprint has not used Carrier IQ diagnostics to profile customers, to serve targeted advertising, or for any purpose not specifically related to certifying that a device is able to operate on our network or to otherwise improve the customer experience or our network operations.  We have used Carrier IQ to certify devices prior to launching them on our network and after launch to review device functionality on our network (i.e., to better understand where dropped calls occur, identifying gaps in cell tower coverage, etc.)  

A key element of our privacy practices involves communicating with our customers about our privacy practices. The Sprint privacy policy explains that certain data is collected automatically by Sprint to ensure a high quality of service to our customers, including how a device is functioning when being used with different applications and about our network performance.  The information collected using the Carrier IQ tool is tailored to provide aggregated information relevant to and for the particular purpose of:

  • Certification and testing of devices;
  • understanding device performance to  determine when issues are occurring and how to resolve them; and
  • analyzing our network performance and identify where we should be improving service.
 
There are 29 comments

Gekko says:

kudos to Sprint.

Yeah but if all they want are signal strength, tower number, channel, and location, why is Sprint key logging our passwords and copies of our texts?

I called and filed a president's office complaint.

If Sprint is REALLY no longer collecting the Carrier IQ data, then the software has no business being on any device any longer.

jonyah says:

True, but in case you didn't read the article they have 17 phones that would need new roms. Stripping it out isn't easy either. It's embedded in so many apps that it's going to take time for them to build new roms for every device and get it out.

+1 to Sprint for listening though and doing something about it.

mustangboy88 says:

Carrier IQ investors of 12M led by Bridgescale Partners, with participation from existing investors Intel Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Accel Partners, Charles River Ventures and Nauta Capital.

I bet these guys haven't been sleeping too well lately.

CeluGeek says:

I'm guessing "baby steps" but I'm not really satisfied. There's no way to tell when they are collecting data and when they aren't. We are supposed to take Sprint's word for it? They already deceived us by sneaking this software behind our backs without giving us a chance to opt out.

Short of letting users off the hook for an ETF for a contract they have been deceiving us with, two other solutions are acceptable and both include getting the software on ALL affected devices updated.

* Have the Carrier IQ software completely removed from all handsets as the Geek.com report suggested. I echo drewwalton19216801 in that if you are not collecting the data, the software doesn't need to be there.

- OR -

* Provide an easily accessible way for users to OPT OUT of being tracked. That way Sprint can still collect data from users who don't refuse being tracked, and Carrier IQ (who aren't by any means innocent victims here) can still remain in business.

Tiradora says:

I agree. I've seen on the iPhone how there is an opt out button. Personally I still don't trust having any IQ software in my phone's root access, as well as the unnecessary preinstalled software that for some reason keep collecting data while never being opened or used. I'd like to see what the next OTA update brings.

Kimo91 says:

Kudos to Sprint to be the first carrier to stop this but whose to say that they'll use another way to track users and their apps they use?

voghan says:

They upgraded to a different analytics tool.

mmark27 says:

This is great to hear. I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with a woman from Hesse's office. She continually reassured me that the data were only used to tell them how well the network was performing. I called BS on that because Sprint's network totally sucks ass in my area yet every time I call in, they have me do a bunch of work to prove to them that there is something wrong with their network. I said its clear you don't use the information, so why do you allow it on your phones? Then she did a lot of finger pointing at Samsung.

evoskydive says:

I used to follow Mrs. Vinge on Twitter. She is useless when it comes to answering customer concerns. I don't trust a word that comes out of her mouth.

c0ldburn3r says:

The cell carriers are just going to move to another companies software that's all. If they would give us the option to Opt in our out, like CM, when you start your device for the first time, I don't think this would have been such a big deal.

Poor CIQ, they are probably going under due to the average user blowing it out of proportion.

One thing users have to understand is that they could see all that data no matter what, they simply had this software transmitting it securely.

More people need to listen to the CIQ podcast and hear what Jerry weighed in on the subject.

Taz89 says:

completely agree with,blown way out of proportion...people say they have been decieved lol read your privacy small prints for once and it states they may be collecting data.so when you sign that contract you also agreed to let them collecr data.ieveryone thats calling for ciq head may actually want to learn about them....sadly because som people dont undrstand the reason for ciq ,ciq will probably dissappear overtime which also means many will lose job.finally if its ciq on your phone then something else is or will be.

icebike says:

I disagree. CIQ NEEDS to go out of business.

It will discourage others from entering this business without a clear transparent business model and an ability for the end-user to opt out.

Let the Cell Carriers move to a different platform. The hackers among us will ferret that out far more quickly than CIQ, because they will be looking for it.

And NO, you are dead WRONG about the carriers being able to see all that data "no matter what".

They don't have time; the data stream is FAR too large, coming far to fast and furious, which is EXACTLY WHY they put the software on your device to do the initial data reduction using your processor. Its all they can do to collect billable events.

(Seriously, how could you miss this point? Why would the put CIQ on the phones if they could do it any other way? It seems like none of you guys, Jerry included, has ever worked a day in a network job and have no idea of the size of data flows, and the difficulty of deep packet inspection).

AT&T's approach of using Mark The Spot for users to SELF REPORT dropped calls is all any carrier needs.

But even Mark The Spot had to be deleted from my phone after the May release started running all the time (when Carrier IQ became embedded in it), rather than a simple reporting tool.

c0ldburn3r says:

Actually yes they can see all that data, as I type I'm watching over 2500 users data as it crosses my network so don't even pull the I'm smarter than you card.

9/10 times it's by far easier to use a 3rd party software then build a in house app for data collection.

It's ignorant users like you that don't read the contract you signed with your carrier on what they can and can not do with your data.

Congratulations on raising the unemployment level in the US. CIQ will be going under due to this ridiculous idea that the carriers can't collect data with my knowledge when YOU SIGNED A CONTRACT THAT STATED THEY COULD COLLECT DATA. Read that fine print contract ;)

ScottJ says:

You completely ignored his point regarding the amount of data that needs to be sifted through. Convenient.

Spyware is spyware. Just because the carriers employed this spyware company doesn't lessen their culpability. They deserve all of the derision they are getting and more.

c0ldburn3r says:

Actually that's the whole point of ciq, the 3rd party app does that job for you. Hence the whole not having to build an in-house app.

You signed the contract allowing them to data collect plain and simple. Does the app have the ability to sniff more data, yes. Your carrier can do the same damn thing if they wish but we all take their word that they don't.

They should have used an opt in system since the average won't read the fine print. Hopefully this attention changes that.

JayWill says:

A software update for the Samsung Epic 4G Touch has already leaked from Samfirmware (version "EL13") that totally removed Carrier IQ. I personally think the story that Sprint sent requests to manufacturers to remove Carrier IQ has some teeth to it. I believe we'll see an additional announcement from Sprint that Carrier IQ is being removed from many if not all devices that operate on the network. It's the next logical step.

I sent this to the AC guys when it leaked but they opted not to report on it. Probably for good reason ... it does fall strongly in the "speculation and rumor" category.

we should get updates quicker without that crap in there. hope the new crap they put in is easier to update.

xgunther says:

How does one cite an anonymous source? LOL

-anonymous
?

cgardnervt says:

Good job Sprint...

According to Carrier IQ Detector, my Evo Shift still has it.

Gator352 says:

It's not that they collect data, it's what data they are collecting and how.

I understand the need for analytics for them to "improve" the end-user experience to make the network better. I also understand that when we turn on our phones, we agree to let them collect data. But no where does it state that they are going to collect everything you do and send it via 3rd party software to the carrier. It just states that that you agree for them to collect data to improve the network which is vague at this point with no explanation of whom, what, when, where, and with what.

I personally don't care about CIQ and Sprint collecting my data as long as it's not being sold to 3rd party vendors and/or used against me to collect fees imposed on me by those 3rd party vendors. I also think we should have had the option to opt-out of this particular software and what it logs if we so wished. It's just the sneekyness of it that's got me in an uproar. But either way, it's not like it tied me to a tree and whipped me like a reheaded stepchild that just had intercoarse with its wife.

jharned says:

you know, they can still finds ways to collect the data. Don't let them fool yall.

HTC IQ Agent is still on my phone after checking for updates and a reboot. This is nothing but PR fluff.

dchawk81 says:

Software doesn't magically vanish from your device when it stops being used.

Acelx says:

Soooo CIQ is gone. AKA Personal data sending out to who knows is no longer going to happen.. ONLY ON Sprint for now.. Buuuut you people do know that Sprint still logs the most important thing on your phone? Your calls and text.. and billing information.. If you check your bill every month you will see they have every call you made, every text you sent and msg.. also your billing info.. to me if a hacker wanted to do something or if sprint or whoever logs those files wanted to do something.. they can just use those logs.. who cares about your personal pics or data.. they still have the most important thing at the end of the day

Techminded says:

Hmm. if there isnt, there should be a program for users to encrypt their calls and messages between each other.. The first legit app maker on this idea, will be a billionair. It's voice over IP anyways, data is data. A streemlined voice chat that is encryped would suite just fine, as long as a phonenumber can be forwarded through it somehow or the login is your number.... now the ideas are cooking.. brb going to go make millions.