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Google Chairman Schmidt Condemns Carrier IQ in Androids

By - Source: The Telegraph | B 16 comments

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said the company doesn't support or approve of Carrier IQ's methods.

Executive chairman Eric Schmidt made it clear on Friday that Google does not approve of Carrier IQ's methods -- or at least, how its controversial "keylogger" software is reportedly being used on the Android platform. He even went so far as to state that Android's open-source nature prevents Google from restricting Carrier IQ or similar software.

"Android is an open platform which means people can make software for it that’s not very good for you,” Schmidt told journalists and democracy activists at the Freedom Online conference at the Hague, Netherlands. "This [Carrier IQ] appears to be one [such case]."

In separate remarks, Schmidt said that Google doesn't work with Carrier IQ, and it "certainly doesn't support it."

Last month brought allegations that Carrier IQ's pre-installed diagnostic software on Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and iOS devices was secretly tracking the end-user's browsing history, keystrokes, GPS location and more on behalf of U.S.-based wireless carriers. However several researchers and security firms then stepped forward and said there was no indication of foul play, backing up carrier claims that the tool is merely used for diagnostics.

Yet unease over the "hidden" software ensued, and the general consensus was that there's a potential security risk nonetheless. Now Carrier IQ and wireless carriers are receiving privacy inquiries from Senator Al Rankin. Even more, two class-action lawsuits have also been filed against Carrier IQ, HTC and Samsung in Chicago and St. Louis for potentially violating the Federal Wiretap Act. Apple is also under investigation by German data protection officials over its own role in the Carrier IQ drama.

"The biggest issue for most users is that they do not know whether they have Carrier IQ on their mobile device," Lookout Mobile wrote in a recent blog post. "In addition, there is no clear opt-out path available for those users who do have Carrier IQ installed and would prefer not to have it on their device."

Lookout also pointed out that users need root privileges in order to forcibly remove Carrier IQ from their mobile device.

Google was reportedly one of the last companies to make a statement after the Carrier IQ controversy began nearly two weeks ago. The search engine giant claimed that it did "not have an affiliation with Carrier IQ," and that it does not have any control over how wireless carriers or OEMs customize their devices despite Android being open source.

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    Pallimud , December 9, 2011 8:07 PM
    Please please please get a better editor for your articles. Daily there are blatant typos in what you guys publish, for example in this one, the senator's name. I know most reading this will think I'm being picky but after weeks of seeing obvious typos, I'm finally commenting. If you want to be taken seriously then please do a better job editing your posts.

    P.S. I still read you daily, it is just annoying.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    hoof_hearted , December 9, 2011 7:42 PM
    Google needs to step up like MS did with Security Essentials and release their own malware, virus detector, etc etc
  • -7 Hide
    jryan388 , December 9, 2011 8:02 PM
    They need to be more restrictive. My brother's samsung transform was so poorly designed and ran so abysmally that he cursed android forever and it will take a miracle for him to ever try another android phone.
  • Display all 16 comments.
  • 11 Hide
    Pallimud , December 9, 2011 8:07 PM
    Please please please get a better editor for your articles. Daily there are blatant typos in what you guys publish, for example in this one, the senator's name. I know most reading this will think I'm being picky but after weeks of seeing obvious typos, I'm finally commenting. If you want to be taken seriously then please do a better job editing your posts.

    P.S. I still read you daily, it is just annoying.
  • 0 Hide
    greenrider02 , December 9, 2011 8:17 PM
    hoof_heartedGoogle needs to step up like MS did with Security Essentials and release their own malware, virus detector, etc etc


    It's not malware though. It's installed by the phone devs and feeds them the information they want. It doesn't actually bog down your phone or make you post porn to facebook, it's just a violation of privacy.

    Then again, I'm sure that in some EULA they could have slipped it in that they're allowed to do that, which would be immoral, but legal nonetheless.
  • 1 Hide
    dalethepcman , December 9, 2011 10:02 PM
    greenrider02I'm sure that in some EULA they could have slipped it in that they're allowed to do that, which would be immoral, but legal nonetheless.

    Fortunately you cannot in any way be legally committed to any party who's efforts attempt take away legal right guaranteed by federal law. Just because you sign a contract saying you will work for $0.01 per hour doesn't make it legal, federal law mandates that you will be paid $7.25 unless you qualify for the smw or ymw.

    TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 119 > § 2511

    Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any person who intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication; ect.....
    shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

    The court may use any means within its authority to enforce an injunction issued under paragraph (ii)(A), and shall impose a civil fine of not less than $500 for each violation of such an injunction.

    Basically if found guilty of wiretapping for each device, they will be subject to a mandatory 70.5 billion dollar fine and up to a 700 million year sentence. I want to see the look on their faces when a judge gives out that sentence!
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , December 9, 2011 10:58 PM
    greenrider02It's not malware though. It's installed by the phone devs and feeds them the information they want. It doesn't actually bog down your phone or make you post porn to facebook, it's just a violation of privacy.Then again, I'm sure that in some EULA they could have slipped it in that they're allowed to do that, which would be immoral, but legal nonetheless.


    its only legal if a judge things so. just because you sign a contract doesn't mean it can hold up in court. many dubious things in eulas i'm betting wouldn't hold up in court.

  • -1 Hide
    otacon72 , December 9, 2011 11:24 PM
    dalethepcmanFortunately you cannot in any way be legally committed to any party who's efforts attempt take away legal right guaranteed by federal law. Just because you sign a contract saying you will work for $0.01 per hour doesn't make it legal, federal law mandates that you will be paid $7.25 unless you qualify for the smw or ymw.TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 119 > § 2511Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any person who intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication; ect.....shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. The court may use any means within its authority to enforce an injunction issued under paragraph (ii)(A), and shall impose a civil fine of not less than $500 for each violation of such an injunction.Basically if found guilty of wiretapping for each device, they will be subject to a mandatory 70.5 billion dollar fine and up to a 700 million year sentence. I want to see the look on their faces when a judge gives out that sentence!


    That doesn't apply because it's logging key presses not intercepting anything in transit/transmit.
  • 0 Hide
    theFatHobbit , December 9, 2011 11:34 PM
    I guess the main concern legally would be if this third party 'espionage' program actually recorded information traceable to an individual phone user.

    Cant decide why a series of very large companies would need the information received
    ... software bug fixes or usage data for nefarious marketing purposes. .
  • 0 Hide
    Vladislaus , December 10, 2011 7:33 AM
    otacon72That doesn't apply because it's logging key presses not intercepting anything in transit/transmit.

    So it's basically a keylogger, aren't they illegal?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 10, 2011 12:26 PM
    This is where rooting comes in to save the day. Your vanilla ROM compiled from sources doesn't have Carrier IQ in it, so neither will your phone.

    Contrast this with similar tracking that Microsoft and Apple have already been caught doing, for which their is no recourse because you can't roll your own OS from source code.

    If anything, Google should step up and do more to ensure that one can install their own OS on every Android phone, and be assured that every part of it will work.
  • 0 Hide
    spammit , December 10, 2011 1:03 PM
    "Senator Al Rankin"
    Really? You couldn't just looks up his name instead of trying to guess what it is? It's Al Franken; should probably fix that mistake.
  • 0 Hide
    SirGCal , December 10, 2011 1:57 PM
    I hope that this ends up in court with a sensible judge... I see both sides of the issue. However, I want the CHOICE without having to root my device. I think a sensible judgement would be to let it continue, however it has to be clearly, and easily removable from every device within 90 days. This would mean they have to make it uninstall-able through an update or some form of uninstall tool. Penalty of having these tools falsified or people thinking they uninstalled it when they didn't (faking the procedure) would then lead toward the huge $ penalty.

    This, ofcorse, is just my thoughts on the subject. I understand why they have it. As a programmer myself I can see how that data can be useful for troubleshooting. Problem is we don't know where the cut-off is and how much other irrelivent data they are gathering is. And even if we did, if 'I' do not want to participate in their 'quality feedback' program, I shouldn't have to... THAT is the bottom line... I've considered rooting my device many times but still have not... I'd RATHER not...

    But honestly, a judge should make all of this bloatware/etc. NOT lockable. Every software package should be removable accept the kernel itself. That's my opinion, but then that's to an extreme also I guess.
  • 1 Hide
    mathew7 , December 11, 2011 8:24 AM
    otacon72That doesn't apply because it's logging key presses not intercepting anything in transit/transmit.

    1. It is installed as a keylogger (as seen with all the keypress events)
    2. I did not see any proof of "keylogger" behavior (sending the key presses over the net)
    3. I does intercept and send URLs over the net (which I do consider "electronic communication", and which CarrierIQ did confirm)

    Like I said on another topic, what was proven the app does is not very dangerous now, since not much of the events are sent over the net. However, who sais an updated app (or rules) cannot be forced on the phone and do all it CAN do.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , December 11, 2011 8:52 AM
    Of course Google condemns it; it competes with its own data collection, after all...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 12, 2011 4:42 PM
    Google needs to advertise how you don't get this bullcrap with the Nexus phones, people hate bloatware and manufacturer UIs. That's the Nexus's best selling point, they should make a bigger deal of it.
  • 0 Hide
    casand , March 1, 2012 6:38 AM
    Its very Appreciable that in Android there is a user friendly platform which allows the user to do their own Apps
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