Carrier IQ is an analytics software company based in California which has been linked to major networks and some hardware manufacturers gaining access to information such as keystroke logging, location tracking and text messages. The implications of this are huge with sensitive data like passwords, banking details and incriminating messages potentially reaching carriers without users knowing. While carriers are insisting that the software is used for error reporting and hardware manufacturers such as HTC include information about Carrier IQ in their privacy policies, Android and iPhone users across the pond are still extremely concerned for their privacty. But is it a problem in the UK?
By the looks of it, UK Android phones are safe. In the US, HTC are getting a lot of heat for their ties with the analytics software, however, a spokesperson has told the Guardian that in the UK, the software isn’t installed on their devices. Google have also stated they don’t put the software on their Nexus phones or in stock Android.
iPhones in the UK do have Carrier IQ when possible, with the user’s explicit permission required to get it active on their handset. Taking the US carriers line, anonymous usage statistics and diagnostic information is sent back to Apple, though unlike with Android handsets, on Apple devices, it doesn’t have access to key-stroke logging, arguably the security fear users are most concerned about. In addition – Apple iPhone owners can turn off the setting to transmit information associated with the software.
Nokia and Windows Phone 7
Both Finnish mobile giant and Windows Phone 7 explicitly state that Carrier IQ is not found on their devices.
Vodafone, Orange, O2 and Three have all stated that they are not installing Carrier IQ in their handsets, taking the stance of Verizon in the US.
All in all, except for the links with iPhones, UK consumers don’t appear to be affected by Carrier IQ. The fact that the iPhone implications are considerably less intrusive than the Android implications in the US with very apparent opt-out options should also serve as some comfort.