Carrier IQ, Samsung, And HTC All Facing Class Action Lawsuits

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To say that Carrier IQ has been going through a lot is a bit of an understatement, and it looks like things are only getting worse. PaidContent reports that two class action lawsuits — one from Missouri and the other from Illinois — have been filed against the Mountain View-based company for supposedly violating the Federal Wiretap Act.

They’re not the only ones either: handset manufacturers HTC and Samsung have also been named as defendants in one lawsuit each.

For those that have missed the drama until now, Carrier IQ is a “mobile intelligence” firm that provides logging software for carriers and devices OEMs for use in their devices. Carrier IQ claims that they deliver information “on the performance of mobile devices and networks to help the Operators provide optimal service efficiency,” but Android security researcher Trevor Eckhart discovered that CarrierIQ was capable of tracking data that’s more fine-grained than what would be expected for simple diagnostic feedback.

The lawsuits allege that the defendants “intercepted, recorded and collected information concerning the substance, purport, or meaning of the electronic communications transmitted without the authorization of the parties to those communications.” Carrier IQ (obviously) doesn’t agree with this statement; they issued an updated statement last night that states the software “does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video.”

And what is it that the plaintiffs of these class action suits want? Cold hard cash for all users who have Carrier IQ’s logging software installed on their devices. The text of the Missouri suits filing calls for Carrier IQ and HTC to pay statutory and punitive damages that would reach into the millions.

Meanwhile, Carrier IQ continues to deny that they have violated any laws — according to the company’s updated media release, “Carrier IQ is aware of various commentators alleging Carrier IQ has violated wiretap laws and we vigorously disagree with these assertions.”

To wit, one of those commentators was Senator Al Franken (D-MN), who yesterday called on Carrier IQ to answer a number of questions regarding what they are and aren’t able to monitor on users’ devices. It seems like Carrier IQ’s claims of being beholden to the whims of the carriers has struck a chord with the senator, as he also issued the same set of questions to AT&T, Sprint, HTC, and Samsung. Senator Franken has given each company in question until December 14 to issue a response, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Strangely, none of the carriers involved were named in either of the lawsuits, though I expect that will soon change. If you want to find out if you your device has Carrier IQ installed on it, check out our article on how to find it and what to do with it.