Nobody likes to be spied on. We hold our privacy close to our hearts which is slightly contradictory in today’s world of social media and online profiles. Yesterday we were yelling about Facebook selling our data to third party advertisers. Today, the biggest controversy is Carrier IQ, the software in our cellphones that logs our activity and passes some of that information on to wireless carriers. We all love a good conspiracy story but this is really no big deal. This information is used to improve wireless networks – kind of boring right?
Carrier IQ can be interpreted as evil for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s hidden. Nobody likes to be out of the loop. If it’s hidden it must be bad… and evil! Second, it’s installed in millions of cellphones all over the world and it’s not opt-in (sounds a lot like Facebook right?). Finally, Carrier IQ is voracious – it logs every keystroke and incoming text message, but, we don’t know how much of this information is actually sent to carriers.
Here’s what you really need to know about Carrier IQ. It’s designed to run in the background of your phone (this is why it’s perceived as evil) to examine how well your information travels on your wireless provider’s network. It’s interested in how fast your network is running, how well your text messages are being sent and that kind of thing. It isn’t really interested in your social life or that naughty picture you sent to your significant other.
What’s the big deal about Carrier IQ and why did the story blow up across the Internet? Let’s just say Carrier IQ is a small company that doesn’t know how to handle negative PR. Instead of sending a Cease and Desist letter to Trevor Eckhart, the researcher who discovered the diagnostic software, they should have just come clean and explained the whole situation openly. It would have saved them a lot of grief in the long run!
Carrier IQ is running on 141 million devices in the U.S. according to InformationWeek. You can get rid of it according to Mashable. It might be absent on your iOS 5 device, according to Aple, but if you want to be 100% safe, check your settings, go to “Diagnostics and Usage”, and select “Don’t Send”. Easy!
What do you think of Carrier IQ? Are you up in arms about it? Let us know in the comments below.
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