Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Remember Carrier IQ? Well, It’s Still Around and Kicking.

After being at the center of a privacy storm last year, Carrier IQ is aiming to rebuild its business.

For those who don’t remember, Carrier IQ is a start-up that sells software that tracks various goings-on inside a cellphone to help cellular carriers and device makers better understand problems on the device.

An uproar occurred last November after a report suggested that the company might be logging all of a user’s activities. Even as Carrier IQ clarified what it was and wasn’t doing, concerns over the product remained.

The Mountain View, Calif., start-up didn’t lose any of its major customers entirely, but its software is definitely installed on fewer phones now than it was before the controversy.

But its executives insist that software that resides on the device, like its own, is critical to understanding connection issues, battery drain and other problems that plague today’s smartphones.

“Having us there is really the only way the industry is going to make improvements that are necessary,” VP Andrew Coward said in an interview at the CTIA trade show in Orlando. “Our technology can take 10 minutes off a customer support call.”

Carrier IQ has taken a couple key steps in its effort to change its image.

Earlier this year, Carrier IQ announced plans to create a way for customers to see firsthand some of the data that is being captured on their phones. That process is still ongoing as Carrier IQ works with the cellular firms to suss out which data they want to share and in what forms.

On Tuesday, the company announced it has hired former Verizon lawyer Magnolia Mansourkia Mobley as its new general counsel and chief privacy officer.

Mansourkia Mobley said that the company is looking to be a strong voice in a broader industry discussion around privacy.

“I don’t think this is something that is limited to Carrier IQ,” she said, saying it is an issue affecting the whole online world. “We plan to be an active member of those discussions.”

The solution, she said, isn’t for Carrier IQ and other small companies to do a lot of work creating their own customer Bill of Rights.

“I don’t think that’s an effective way of delivering something that is meaningful to a consumer,” she said.

The company has also shifted some of its attention more globally. For example, while the company had a booth at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it opted not to do the same here in New Orleans.

Although it would always love more U.S. business, Coward said the company is already well known here and counts three of the big four U.S. carriers (not Verizon) as its customers, along with Leap Wireless.

“We’re spending a lot of time in Europe right now,” Coward said. “The same issues with handsets exist globally. It’s not just a U.S. issue.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik