Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Smartphone tracker software" gets more curious by the day!

At the end of November I wrote about Carrier IQ, software installed (without their users' knowledge) on millions of Android-based smartphones. It appeared to not only track users' activity, but actually log their keystrokes as well - potentially a major security breach. A few days later, I noted that the makers of the software had denied culpability, insisting that the most invasive elements were there because the manufacturers of the smartphones and/or the network providers who serviced them wanted and/or had activated those features.

It seems there's even more to the story. The Washington Post reports:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has denied a request regarding Carrier IQ, a piece of software found on smartphones and designed to send information on handsets to carriers. The request, filed by reporter Michael Morisy of Muckrock News under the Freedom of Information Act, asked for “manuals, documents of other written guidance used to access or analyze data” gathered by any Carrier IQ program.

In denying the request, the FBI said it had information but could not disclose it because it is considered “law enforcement records.” In other words, they’re vital to some kind of ongoing investigation.

There's more at the link.

I don't get it. What sort of 'ongoing investigation' requires the monitoring of everything that's done on tens of millions of Android-based smartphones? If the Washington Post's speculation is correct, this can't be a simple criminal investigation - it's got to be connected with some sort of security monitoring policy. That would make me very angry. I believe the State has no right whatsoever to monitor anything and everything that's done by everyone. That's not an investigation - that's trawling through the minutiae of everyone's life, looking for anything suspicious. What price the Fourth Amendment?

I'll continue to watch this case with great interest. If the speculation above turns out to be correct, I reckon the lawsuits are going to fly thick and fast - and I might just join them!



August said...

The government considers itself immune to these lawsuits you appear to think will fly thick and fast. Maybe some judge lets the private company have it, but the government will still be doing what it is doing.

Unfortunately, lawsuits and voting will not produce the sort of change we hope for.

Anonymous said...

Simple solution, go to Radio Shack or Walmart or wherever and buy a simple phone.