alphadogg writes "A Cornell University professor is calling the controversial Carrier IQ smartphone software revelations a privacy disaster. 'This is my worst nightmare,' says Stephen Wicker, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell. 'As a professor who studies electronic security, this is everything that I have been working against for the last 10 years. It is an utterly appalling invasion of privacy with immense potential for manipulation and privacy theft that requires immediate federal intervention.'" Read on for a grab-bag of other news about the ongoing story of Carrier IQ's spyware.Federal intervention is already on the menu; new submitter mitcheli writes "Following the video from Trevor Eckhart on Youtube after the filing of the Cease and Desist letter and subsequent reply by the EFF and apology letter (as reported on Slashdot), Senator Franken of the Subcommittee on Privacy Technology and the Law asks some rather pointed questions."
Franken has more reason, apparently, to look into this than might legislators in other countries; an anonymous reader submits news that Cambridge researchers have found the software to be confined to (or at least only confirmed in) American customers' phones. From their report: "We performed an analysis on our dataset of 5572 Android smartphones that volunteers from all over the world helped us create. From those 5572 devices, only 21 were found to be running the software, all of them in the US and Puerto Rico. The affected carriers we observed were AT&T, Boost Mobile and Sprint.
We found no evidence of the Carrier IQ software running on Android devices in any other country."
Another anonymous reader suggests that "Apart from anything else, the fundamental mistake that Carrier IQ made was attempting to silence a developer using a heavy-handed legal threat. Certainly this was the tipping point in terms of bring the whole incident to the public's attention."
Like apparently begets like; reader adeelarshad82 writes "Not surprisingly, the Carrier IQ controversy has resulted in some legal action. Class-action lawsuits have been filed in California and Missouri that accuse Carrier IQ, as well as Samsung and HTC, of violating federal wiretap laws. The California case was filed on behalf of four smartphone users with HTC and Samsung devices and accuses the companies of violating the Federal Wiretap Act, which prohibits the unauthorized interception or illegal use of electronic communications, and California's Unfair Business Practice Act."
Finally, GMGruman writes with the cautionary note that Carrier IQ and Facebook pose "the least of your privacy threats": "[S]o far these forms of monitoring anonymize the data, so an individual's actual privacy is not invaded. And while people fret over these potential invasions, a more pernicious privacy invasion is under way, one that monitors actual individuals and then uses that information to try to direct their behavior. For example, car insurers give monitoring boxes to customers to track their driving behavior and offer a discount if it is 'good.' Of course, the flip side is higher rates or no coverage if the black box decides you are "bad." And, as this blog post points out, this is just one of many such 'Big Brother corporation' efforts out there that give significant power to insurers and others who have a history of abusing personal information, such as for redlining and coverage denial."