Ina Fried

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Weekend Update: Al Franken Still Not Happy About Carrier IQ

Senator Al Franken says he is still concerned about the use of software from Carrier IQ even after reviewing materials sent to him by device makers and wireless carriers.

“People have a fundamental right to control their private information,” Franken said in a statement posted to his Web site. “After reading the companies’ responses, I’m still concerned that this right is not being respected.”

Franken said he is concerned that the average user of a phone running Carrier IQ’s software has no idea what information is being collected and who is getting it, or even the fact the software is running at all.

“I’m also bothered by the software’s ability to capture the contents of our online searches — even when users wish to encrypt them,” Franken said. “So there are still many questions to be answered here and things that need to be fixed.”

In addition to his statements, Franken’s office also released the responses from Carrier IQ, AT&T, Sprint, Samsung, and HTC. The senator says he still hopes to hear from T-Mobile and Motorola by Tuesday.

Sprint, for example, said it began installing the software on devices in 2006 and has put it on about 26 million devices, though only 5 percent of those phones are being asked to send data at any given time. AT&T said the software is installed on about 1 percent of its devices, or 900,000 phones, with 575,000 of those reporting data at any given time.

The carrier noted it has not used the software to profile customers or deliver ads but only to certify devices prior to launch and to review performance of the device and network after launch.

There’s a lot of other interesting bits of data in the response letters, each of which is posted as a PDF on Franken’s site.

Carrier IQ, which sent a response letter to Franken, has also tried to clear the air in interviews and in meetings with both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

Update: Sprint said on Friday that it has decided to stop collecting data using the software.

“We have weighed customer concerns and we have disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information and data is no longer being collected,” Sprint said in a statement. “At Sprint, we work hard to earn the trust of our customers and believe this course of action is in the best interest of our business and customers.”

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google