Bloomberg reported this morning that a German data regulator is seeking to question Apple over its use of the Carrier IQ mobile tracking software in iPhones:
The Bavarian State Authority for Data Protection sent a letter to Apple today to request information about the software, Thomas Kranig, head of the office, said in an interview. Apple said yesterday that it will stop supporting Carrier IQ software.
Back in the United States, Senator Al Franken is urging Carrier IQ and Sprint to detail how specifically the software works and what data it transmits, demanding that Carrier IQ explain themselves by December 14. Phone vendors and platform providers such as Google are attempting to distance themselves from Carrier IQ, arguing carriers deploy the software on handsets and mine data.
Carrier IQ late Thursday disputed spying accusations, maintaining its software “does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video”. Apple too issued a statement acknowledging existence of Carrier IQ in iOS 5 and confirming plans to “remove it completely in a future software update”. Commenting on the move, Kranig said “If Apple decided to cease the use, all the better”.
The controversy blew up in the past 48 hours as developer Trevor Eckhart discovered the mobile industry’s worst kept secret, that carriers have been deploying Carrier IQ’s mobile analytics software on various Android devices. Carrier IQ has found itself caught in the line of fire over collecting logs containing sensitive phone and user information. After Eckhard posted a video of Carrier IQ in action, big media picked up the story. Carrier IQ doesn’t appear as nefarious on iOS as on other platforms. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison said in a statement yesterday:
We stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information.