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Congress

Wireless Firms Defend Use Of Carrier IQ

December 21, 2011

Two more wireless companies are defending their use of diagnostic software provided by Carrier IQ, saying they do not use it to collect personal information about mobile users.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., released responses on Wednesday from Motorola and T-Mobile to his letter expressing concerns about whether Carrier IQ software is used to collect personal information about smart phone users. Motorola noted that it installs the controversial software on certain smart phones at the request of wireless carriers and doesn't receive any data from Carrier IQ.

T-Mobile said it does not collect any personal information about its subscribers through Carrier IQ's software and only uses the software to help improve the performance of its service. This echoed responses Franken got last week from other wireless companies including AT&T and Sprint as well as Carrier IQ itself.

"The diagnostic software from Carrier IQ assists T-Mobile in improving our customers' wireless experience by capturing and analyzing a narrow set of data related to some of the most common issues our customers' experience: device/battery performance, application failures and signal strength," T-Mobile Senior Vice President Thomas Sugrue wrote in a letter to Franken. "Through Carrier IQ, T-Mobile collects this type of technical data solely to understand what is happening on the device and the network so that we can more effectively and directly troubleshoot" service issues.

Franken has voiced concern about reports that a bug in the Carrier IQ software resulted in some text messages being captured. "I appreciate the responses I received, but I'm still very troubled by what's going on," Franken said last week after receiving responses from other wireless firms. "People have a fundamental right to control their private information. After reading the companies' responses, I'm still concerned that this right is not being respected."

A Franken spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on whether her boss plans to seek more information through a hearing or offer legislation. Franken introduced legislation earlier this year that would require companies to obtain explicit permission from users before tracking their location information or sharing it with third parties.

Carrier IQ has denied reports that federal authorities are investigating the company over concerns raised about its software.

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