An Android developer has published a YouTube video that he claims is proof that a mobile intelligence company secretly collects user data via keystrokes.
The video showed how Trevor Eckhart was able to use a packet sniffer that demonstrated how software from Carrier IQ logged every keystroke that he made and recorded incoming text messages.
The software also logged user’s geographical locations and allowed them to be used even when Eckhart told it not to.
However, although Carrier IQ initially threatened Eckhart with legal action for describing their app as a “rootkit” they later withdrew their threats and issued him with an apology.
The company claims that the data they monitor is collected in order to help mobile providers and manufacturers evaluate the performance of devices in order to provide the best services to their customers.
In a statement defending its position, Carrier IQ said that they do this by “counting and measuring operational information in mobile devices.”
“This information is used by our customers as a mission critical tool to improve the quality of the network, understand device issues and ultimately improve the user experience,” they went on to explain.
Carrier IQ’s software is embedded into devices by the manufacturers themselves, alongside “other diagnostic tools and software” before phones are shipped.
The company say that they are purely looking at how a device performs and not logging keystrokes or “providing tracking tools.”
They go on to say that they have no intention of developing tools that tracks users, nor do they do so now.
This will raise questions on how mobile phone companies and manufacturers track their customers and use their information.
At the moment the software is known to be shipped with some Android, Symbian and Blackberry devices as well as certain Nokia handsets.
Whilst the company has denied that its software logs text messages, Eckhart’s video proves beyond doubt that it actually does.
However, if the company is, as it claims, acting on the instructions of major phone manufacturers and carriers, then it would seem that many of them have some explaining to do concerning their privacy policies which are supposed to protect user’s data.