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.

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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.