NZ phone companies disavow 'Carrier IQ' tracking software

A furore has broken out in the US over tracking software that allegedly lets telcos track your keystrokes, and movement. NBR surveys Telecom, Vodafone, TelstraClear and 2degrees over their use, or not, of such an app.

Controversy has broken out in the US over software installed, secretly, on major brands of smartphone - and whether it can 'spy' on users.

The software package developed by and named ‘Carrier IQ’ can allegedly record data such as key strokes, received messages and your location, then relay it to your mobile phone company.

Videos uploaded through Youtube by Connecticut based Android application developer Trevor Eckhart have revealed some startling, yet still unconfirmed discoveries. Mr Eckhart, in a claim picked up by the Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD website, said “Every button you press in the dialler before you call, it already gets sent off to the IQ application.”

Eckhart claims the software is capable of saving and sending data entered into the phone by the user, including "text messages and online search requests" to any service provider affiliated with the pre-installation of such software on mobile devices which they supply.

Various service providers around the world have denied claims that they have access to the data being fed through the application, including providers based in New Zealand.

Vodafone NZ told NBR that no such software is or has been used through its service, including an official response posted on their website forums.

“We do not use this technology on our customer networks. The protection of our customer’s privacy is paramount and we have strict guidelines governing the technologies we deploy.”

Other mobile service providers including Telecom, TelstraClear and 2Degrees have also made it clear that the software is unavailable to them and that the implementation of such software would go greatly against their company policies.

Telecom said it does not use Carrier IQ, and that their devices “do not come loaded with this type of software.”

TelstraClear said through its twitter feed: “No, our devices do not key-log.”

2degrees told NBR it has no knowledge of any form of tracking software being implemented through its devices and services.

Although the software is installed on most modern Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones, Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until Eckhart analysed its workings.

However, the software company that developed the Carrier IQ application denies that its software is designed to spy on users.

Although these reports of smart-phone ‘spying’ are yet to be fully confirmed, the issue raises questions as to why the application has been installed in the first place.

Further concerns regarding this data collection also raise the issue; if service providers don’t have access to the data being collected, where is the information being sent? 

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