Following reports back in April that iPhones were tracking users by storing GPS location data, Steve Jobs himself responded, claiming that Apple doesn’t track their users, but Android, on the other hand, tracks everyone.
Now, as CultofMac reports via Wired’s Threat Level, 25-year-old Android Developer Trevor Eckhart has discovered a piece of software present on nearly all Android devices, called Carrier IQ, which proves Steve Jobs’ assertions to be true – Android really is tracking you, and so are other platforms.
The software comes pre-installed not only on Android phones, but Nokia and Blackberry devices as well, keeping record of everything done on your device, and sending those reports to its servers for “safe keeping.”
Carrier IQ keeps a record not only of actions performed on your device, but also call logs, text messages, web searches, location data and more, which is a concerning matter, to say the least.
The software is intended to monitor user experience for quality control purposes, but Eckhart doesn’t buy it. He calls the software a “rootkit,” and a potential security fault.
After going public with his discovery, Carrier IQ contacted him, threatening him with a lawsuit, and claiming that their software does not log keystrokes (although they didn’t deny any of the other things Eckhart mentioned).
To illustrate just how invasive Carrier IQ really is, Eckhart has posted a video proving that the software logs each number (as it’s being dialed), web searches, and text messages, and then sends it to its own servers.
It’s pretty shocking that any privately held company is being trusted with so much personal data from millions of users around the world, and even more incredible that carriers, and companies like Nokia, RIM, and Google are seemingly behind this, all without ever revealing to users what they’re doing.
What’s most concerning of all, however, is that users are given no way to opt out of Carrier IQ. I smell some hideous legal proceedings in the works over this – and rightly so. Someone should probably go to prison for this.
So there you have it – Steve Jobs was right, and your paranoia that your smartphone is watching you turns out to be justified. Check out Eckhart’s video demonstration below to see the horrifying truth.