re: Carrier IQ: Mobile App Crap Must Stop
My comments about Carrier IQ, also posted on Verge and Washington Post.
I have worked in the Cellular Industry as a engineer since 1980. For the past 30 Years, ALL carriers have had access to this information (even in the old analog days)! Cell Towers pass a lot of 'tracking' information to the MSC (Mobile Switching Center) used in call delivery and hand-offs etc. This information includes mobile numbers, location (cell site/antenna face (direction)/etc.), RSSI (Receive Signal Strength Indicators), phone power settings, network call set up info (channel/time slot/authentication/cell tower, etc). This is separate than the "Billing Information" which is also collected (numbers dialed, times, etc.) It also logs 'dropped calls', failed hand offs and other network problems from the cell phone ! A carrier already has access to ALL this information (How else could you send your SMS/TXT, be routed to your WEB page or even complete your call? They DO NOT NEED "Carrier IQ" for anything especially in relation to "System Performance".
This information is stored on the MSC for a short period of time (usually a few days) and is then automatically overwritten (for storage reasons). BUT during those few days this information can be Accessed and downloaded, to provide ALL the information the Carriers say they NEED !
This information is 'buried' deep in the switch were very few engineers have the log-on authority and permission to access it, even under Court Orders (yes the government can order carriers to provide it) - BUT it's there I know, I was one of the few (for AT&T).
Carrier IQ goes way beyond this and records "Key Strokes". This root program knows what your typing BEFORE it gets encrypted (by the network) or even reaches a HTTPS/SSL 'secure' web page (like your bank).
As pure speculation in respect to AT&T, I'd almost bet, It's a case of the "Marketing Department" NOT talking with the Network Engineers or being told "No". Wanting this information, they could easily 'influence' the phone manufactures to include Carrier IQ. They are the people that do the 'buying' (ordering) of the phones to be sold buy the carrier. The VP of Marketing will ALWAYS out rank the VP of Engineering when it comes to sales and 'Gross Adds' (customers).