week in review Controversy over a mobile data-logger flared this week despite confusion over how the software works and what data it transmits. Some security experts said the privacy threat was overblown and it turns out Carrier IQ was falsely accused of "keylogging" in a rush to virtual judgement.
Carrier IQ, a startup that provides tracking tools to carriers and phone vendors, came under fire for allegedly monitoring Android- and iOS-based smartphones. According to Android researcher Trevor Eckhart, an outspoken critic of the company's technology, the company's software running on Android devices can record and relay all kinds of information, including keystrokes, SMS messages in plain text, and even browsing history.
The company's software has also been found on the iPhone, running on every iOS version dating back to iOS 3. However, Apple responded yesterday, saying it hasn't used Carrier IQ since it released iOS 5 last month and will remove it entirely from its products "in a future software update."
BlackBerry maker Research in Motion also told CNET it has neither pre-installed Carrier IQ on its devices nor authorized carriers to do so.
Carrier IQ says the software is designed to give carriers usage and other stats so they can improve the network and service. Mobile security researchers CNET has spoken with say that they believe that the risk posed by Carrier IQ's software has been overblown. And in the end, it seems Carrier IQ was falsely accused of keylogging, although privacy concerns persist. Just what is Carrier IQ's software doing on your phone? And do you really need to worry about it? CNET addresses those questions in this FAQ.
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This story was updated at 11:11 a.m. PT with new information about Carrier IQ and how it was falsely accused of "keylogging."