Sprint, HTC update phones to eliminate Carrier IQ software


Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is making good on promises to remove Carrier IQ software from devices across its network, teaming with manufacturing partner HTC to develop a firmware update that targets the controversial mobile analytics measurement tool.

"HTC can confirm that we're working with Sprint to provide maintenance releases that will remove Carrier IQ and provide security enhancements and bug fixes beginning in January," the vendor told The Verge. The firmware update is now rolling out to Sprint's HTC Evo 3D. 

According to allegations made late last year by security researcher Trevor Eckhart, the Carrier IQ app secretly records user behaviors across more than 140 million mobile handsets. Carrier IQ has denied any wrongdoing, maintaining that its services count and measure operational information and do not record keystrokes or provide tracking tools.

Sprint installed Carrier IQ software across 26 million phones, although only 1.3 million handsets actively reported data at any given time. The operator disabled Carrier IQ in mid-December. "We have weighed customer concerns, and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected," Sprint said last month in an email to Mobile Burn. "We are further evaluating options regarding this diagnostic software as well as Sprint's diagnostic needs."

Sprint has stated that it did not use Carrier IQ software to analyze the content of text messages, emails, photos and other content information stored on subscribers' phones. The operator also said that it did not leverage Carrier IQ data for any targeted advertising or subscriber profiling efforts, adding it relied on the analytics solution solely to identify network deficiencies and improve services.

Carrier IQ has denied reports that it is the target of a Federal Trade Commission investigation but confirmed that executives have met with FTC and Federal Communications Commission officials. PCWorld reports that last week, Reps. Henry Waxman (D-California), G.K Butterfield (D-North Carolina) and Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) sent an open letter to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, requesting an investigation into the data collection and transmission capabilities of Carrier IQ and similar services.

"Data collection and transmission by Carrier IQ and similar software is widespread, and consumers appear to have little knowledge and even less control over the practice," the lawmakers wrote. "There continue to be many unanswered questions about the handling of this data and the extent to which its collection, analysis and transmission pose legitimate privacy concerns for the American public."

For more:
- read this The Verge article
- read this PCWorld article

Related articles:
Sprint disables Carrier IQ across all phones
Carrier IQ denies reports of FTC probe
Lawmaker calls for FTC probe into Carrier IQ data tracking
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile admit to using Carrier IQ; Apple says it doesn't anymore
Verizon, Nokia: Carrier IQ software is not on our phones