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8 Cell Companies Named in Carrier IQ Tracking App Federal Lawsuit Scandal

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Carrier IQ--the software now accused of operating on Android, Blackberry, Symbian devices and Apple iPhones--is moving on to court. Attorneys claim an "unprecedented breach" of 150 million cell consumers, alleging "carriers and manufacturers were caught ... willfully violating customers’ privacy rights in direct violation of federal law." Eight are bound for court including Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Things are about to get very legally ugly.
The supposed diagnostic tool that's on millions of smartphones is accused of garnering info about users and even recording keystrokes and SMS messages--and sending information to a third party.
Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T have all admitted to Carrier IQ use but weren't really speaking on the matter. The tracking app's reportedly on every Android device except Galaxy Nexus, Google Nexus One, Nexus S or Motorola Xoom. And it's also on Apple iOS devices. The claim is that the app's only active when the phone's in diagnostic mode. The reality's far more unclear. Nor is the truth looking good, considering the sudden round of lawsuits that are hitting industry giants like a tidal wave. Odds are the 'illness' is a bad one.
Supposedly Carrier IQ is a "tool" -- touted for supposed benefits of recording info in order to help carriers improve quality of service for customers. Feel better? Probably not. It doesn't typically ease peoples' minds to have what's presented as a tool being secretly-installed without their knowledge. It kind of kills credibility. Kind of like the person who lies to you repeatedly, then suddenly claims error. Human beings tend not to believe at that point. That is, if they're smart.
Customers don't typically respond well to being deceived -- particularly when it comes to their privacy. Or stuff secretly-installed, with all appearances that the company would really prefer you -- as the user -- didn't know about it. It's kind of the stuff movies are made of, in terms of the 'wow' factor.
It was just months ago in October that researcher Trevor Eckhart made the discovery of recorded info, and realized info may be sent back to Carrier IQ servers. The company response included a not-so-pleasant cease & desist letter. Somehow there was also a press release involved -- containing the claim that Carrier IQ was supposedly “not recording keystrokes or providing tracking tools.”
The company isn't the only one that probably prefers any such claim to remain private: A search for "Android tracking app" strangely returns pages of search results related to an application for lost phones. Reference to Carrier IQ or related allegations all remain notably absent from the first pages of returns. It's a scenario that certainly seems odd considering the thousands of related articles addressing the scandal. Logic says those most pertinent and recent volume of articles, or even a few, should logically pop up first in Google search results. But, no.
There's now video evidence that seems to show Carrier IQ is actually recording keystrokes and reading incoming SMS messages on Android. Crazy enough, the app can't be stopped and users can't get rid of the damn thing. Crazier yet, before the discovery, the tracking and forwarding of info had already been occurring. Craziest yet, the companies involved probably really wish you never knew -- and could stop this PR and legal nightmare.
Things aren't looking good. The app may have been a secret to users -- but its depths are looking mighty fishy. There could be a brokered deal between Carrier IQ and most service providers. Any such relationships are bound to come out in court. And lawsuits are now flying.
Eight companies have been named, so far, in legal action. Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ are now being sued in a federal court by what attorneys dub a “cell phone tracking software scandal.”
Yeah, it's pretty serious. Law firms Sianni & Straite LLP, Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP, and Keefe Bartels L.L.C. jointly filed a class action suit against the 8 cell companies, the complaint in Delaware Federal Court claiming 150 million cell phone users have been affected. The lawsuit insinuates carriers and vendors are guilty of violating the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
One of the only remaining, not accused, is Sony-Ericsson. But with Sony dropping the Ericsson name and its cell phone manufacturing path unclear, that's not looking like the brightest feature either. Sony's just announced its future: the Sony Android.

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