updated 11:45 am EST, Fri December 2, 2011
HTC and Samsung targets of privacy class actions
Carrier IQ and its partners may have faced repercussions for policies Thursday after it was sued in Chicago (below) and St. Louis over its data tracking controversy. The potential class actions from Erin Janek and others accuse Carrier IQ, HTC, and Samsung of violating the Federal Wiretap Act by intercepting data and voice without owners' permissions. They take the position that Carrier IQ's software, which on Android is hidden and not normally removable, was recording keystrokes and messages.
If cleared to go forward as class actions representing all owners with Carrier IQ-equipped devices, the cases would collect at least $5 million each by definition. The money would presumably be paid out across all users in small amounts each.
Whether or not the companies violate any laws isn't certain and might depend on interpretation. Carrier IQ itself has said that it sees but doesn't record personal information. Just by seeing the content with its monitoring tools, however, it may be seen as intercepting data it wasn't supposed to access.
HTC and Samsung themselves have mostly put the blame on carriers like AT&T and Sprint, which haven't been targeted by the lawsuit but which Carrier IQ acknowledges are its main customers. They have usually said they only get network-related information, but their insistence on including the tracking software could make them liable as well.
Apple is likely to be exempt from any lawsuits. Since it has control over its platform, it made Carrier IQ opt-in only and didn't include any keystroke or message filtering. The software is gone as of iOS 5 where HTC and Samsung are still using Carrier IQ today. [via paidContent]