Carrier IQ Explains Secret Monitoring Software to FTC, FCC

Carrier IQ, the embattled phone-monitoring software maker, said Wednesday it had met this week with officials from the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission “to educate the two agencies about the functionality of its software and answer any and all questions.”

The company, referring to the FTC, was quick to add that “We are not aware of an official investigation into Carrier IQ at this time.” The statement comes nearly two weeks after Rep. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) urged the trade commission to open an inquiry into Carrier IQ.

“Consumers and families need to understand who is siphoning off and storing their personal information every time they use their smart phone,” Markey said. “I am asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate this practice, and I will continue to monitor this important privacy issue.”

As a rule, the FCC does not confirm or deny whether it is investigating a company for violating unfair business practices.

Carrier IQ executives told Wired two weeks ago that the Mountain View, California company’s wares, secretly installed on some 150 million phones, have the capacity to log web usage, and to chronicle where and when and to what numbers calls and text messages were sent and received.

The company’s Wednesday statement comes amid a firestorm targeting the 6-year-old company. Carriers Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile, along with Carrier IQ, are the subject of lawsuits, accusing them of secretly spying on customers. The software came to light when a Connecticut researcher weeks ago released a video showing what he believed was Carrier IQ chronicling every keystroke from a mobile handset.

The telecoms and Carrier IQ maintain that the software is used exclusively to enhance the mobile-phone “user experience” to enable carriers the ability to know what apps are crashing phones and, among other things, where new phone towers are needed.

The software maker said the data it vacuums to its servers from handsets is vast — as the software also monitors app deployment, battery life, phone CPU output and data and cell-site connectivity, among other things. But, the company said, the software is not logging every keystroke.