John Paczkowski

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RIM, HTC, Google on Carrier IQ: Blame the Carriers

If Carrier IQ is running on your smartphone, it’s likely not the device manufacturer that put it there.

Smartphone manufacturers are fast lining up to distance themselves from the Carrier IQ privacy debacle. Responding to reports that Carrier IQ’s smartphone diagnostics software has been found on their handsets, Research In Motion and HTC issued statements today denying responsibility for it, and Google said it had no control over the matter.

None of them admitted to installing or authorizing their carrier partners to install the software which security researchers have shown to log essentially every keystroke made on devices on which it is running.

RIM claimed to have nothing to do with Carrier IQ on its devices.

“RIM is aware of a recent claim by a security researcher that an application called ‘CarrierIQ’ is installed on mobile devices from multiple vendors without the knowledge or consent of the device users,” the company said in a statement. “RIM does not pre-install the CarrierIQ app on BlackBerry smartphones or authorize its carrier partners to install the CarrierIQ app before sales or distribution. RIM also did not develop or commission the development of the CarrierIQ application, and has no involvement in the testing, promotion, or distribution of the app. RIM will continue to investigate reports and speculation related to CarrierIQ.”

HTC went one step further, fingering the carriers outright. “Carrier IQ is required on devices by a number of U.S carriers so if consumers or media have any questions about the practices relating to, or data collected by, Carrier IQ we’d advise them to contact their carrier,” the company said, stressing that it is not a customer or partner of Carrier IQ. “HTC is investigating the option to allow consumers to opt-out of data collection by the Carrier IQ application,” it added.

Google also disclaimed any connection, saying, “We do not have an affiliation with CarrierIQ. Android is an open source effort and we do not control how carriers or OEMs customize their devices.” 

Carrier IQ and Sprint haven’t yet returned requests for comment. AT&T said simply, “In line with our privacy policy, we solely use CIQ software data to improve wireless network and service performance.”

Verizon claims not to use Carrier IQ, though telecom industry sources tell me it almost certainly uses something similar to it.

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