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

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

  • AT&T's user of Carrier IQ extends to its own analytics app
  • Sprint has 26 million devices with Carrier IQ
  • HTC finds dormant Carrier IQ fragments on some phones that shouldn't have them
  • Samsung has 26 million devices with Carrier IQ, also finds dormant fragments

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 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 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 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."


"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 theirspecifications."

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

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Phil Nickinson