updated 07:00 pm EST, Wed December 21, 2011
Company criticized for hiding software
After speaking with Carrier IQ and its customers, including carriers and handaset makers, Senator Al Franken has reportedly concluded that the central issues relate to awareness and control. In an interview with The Verge, the Minnesota senator suggests consumers should be informed of what information is being gathered from their cellphones.
"I think that what we're seeing is that all of the companies involved here — wireless carriers, device manufacturers and Carrier IQ itself — need to be doing a better job of informing their customers about the information that is being collected," Franken said. "I also think that those companies need to give consumers a choice about whether or not they want that information collected about them in the first place."
Franken acknowledges the need for carriers to use certain data to improve their network, however he notes that Carrier IQ and its customers buried the software and failed to inform customers or ask for permission before accessing location data and other information.
"I think that the default for collecting any kind of personal data should be opt-in consent. I think we need to be especially careful about certain categories of data — like location, for example," Franken said. "But it isn’t just location that’s sensitive — there’s also medical data, biometrics, and the content of communications, to name a few."
Carrier IQ is currently being investigated by government agencies over accusations of possible wrongdoing. Amid the furor, Sprint has stopped collecting data from the software and several handset makers claim to be working on methods that allow users to remove the software from devices.