Carrier IQ is a hidden analytics software that’s been revealed to track everything anyone does on their mobile phone—from location to text messages to web surfing to numbers dialed—right down to every key press. Developer Trevor Eckhart first discovered the software, publishing his findings in the video above (see 9:00 mark). Now, Senator Al Franken has launched an investigation into Carrier IQ, and the company has also been hit with a class-action lawsuit alongside plaintiffs Samsung and HTC in violation of the Federal Wire Tap Act for collecting private information without permission.
The software is not built into iOS, Blackberry or Android. Instead, manufacturers and carriers bundle it into the phones. Thus far, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have admitted doing so, citing diagnostic tools as their reason. On the other hand, Verizon has denied any such actions.
Originally thought to be limited to Android phones, Carrier IQ has also been found on iOS devices in diagnostic mode, though iOS 5 discontinues it.
As of now, the software cannot be removed. At the very least—while you’re still being tracked—take comfort in knowing that if Carrier IQ, HTC, and Samsung lose, they could face penalties of $100 per device per every day the violations occurred. The carriers are probably next in the firing line.