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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Information Logging Company Tried To Silence Android Developer

One of the information logging firms was trying to silence a whistle-blower that blew the whistle on its application which is secretly installed on hundreds of thousands of mobile phones.

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Trevor Eckhart has published a report that was critical of the Carrier IQ’s application installed on lots of Android, BlackBerry and Nokia mobile phones. He revealed that the application secretly tracks people’s phone experience, from its software, battery life and text messages. A number of carriers have been stopping subscribers who actually find the application from monitoring what data is sent.

Trevor Eckhart called the application a “rootkit” and even found manuals on the company’s site that described its methods and purpose. Nevertheless, Carrier IQ was furious at Eckhart’s pronouncements and his publishing of the manuals in question. They issued a cease-and-desist notice, claiming that Eckhart had been in breach of copyright legislation and could face damages of up to $150,000, which is maximum allowed under American copyright legislation per infringement. The outfit removed the manuals from its own site and is currently demanding that Eckhart stop calling its software a rootkit.

Nevertheless, Trevor Eckhart’s case was taken up by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). They claim that Eckhart’s publishing of the files falls under fair use under the Copyright Act for sections like criticism, commentary, news reporting and research. In addition, EFF claim that all of Carrier IQ’s claims and requirements are “baseless”. In fact, the legal threat was a bullying technique to make Trevor Eckhard shut up. EFF representatives explained that the civil rights outfit has decided that Carrier IQ’s actual goal is to suppress this research and consequently prevent other people from verifying his findings.

In respond, Carrier IQ’s marketing manager said that it would be the company, not Eckhart, who controls the manuals. He pointed out that the company’s products are gathering data off the handset in order to study the mobile-user experience. They wanted to find out where signal quality is poor and calls are therefore dropped, and why software crashed. Carrier IQ kept insisting that the application in question didn’t look at text, but only counted how many messages were sent and how many failed.

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