It’s no secret that our data and usage behavior on our phones are eminently loggable. But its another thing entirely to see it in action. That’s just what we get to do, though, thanks to one crafty Android dev.
Renowned developer Trevor Eckhart has recorded a vid that shows the workings of some hidden software that logs all the deets about user activities. Likely used for quality control purposes, Carrier IQ is installed on most late model Androids, BlackBerries and Nokia phones, and had previously flown under the radar until Eckhart dug in and uncovered it.
Of course, the company behind Carrier IQ was pretty upset when the news broke, and even threatened to sue the young developer. And it strenuously denies that the program records keystrokes… a claim that this video clearly contradicts. Apparently, the software can’t be shut off without rooting the device and reinstalling the OS — even if you totally cut off cellular service and stick with WiFi. The device will continue to report to the Carrier IQ.
To see how this “rootkit” gobsmackingly logs text messages, web searches and other behaviors, click play on the vid above.
UPDATE: RIM and Nokia have both denied using Carrier IQ, though there is still some question, as some sources allege that they have found traces of the software in those devices. Meanwhile, HP denied using it, as does Microsoft and Google, which says it has no affiliation with CIQ and doesn’t put it in any of its Nexus products. Apple, however, has admitted that it has, but has already disavowed it and will update the firmware to remove all traces of it. Samsung and HTC have both installed the software in some of their devices, though they say it is done at the carriers’ behest. Speaking of carriers, Verizon raced to answer the question, stating that it does not use the program, though AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have all admitted some of the devices they carry do include it. For more, check out this post over at Engadget, which lists the companies involved in this mess.
This has turned into quite a scandal, and not just because of public backlash. Senator Al Franken has taken aim at this issue and investigate the matter further.