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.