The two cell phone companies caught with their hands in the cookie jar for taking users' thought-to-be private data sent talking points to their service reps saying how exactly they should explain to customers that it's OK for them to secretly collect data. After a video revealed that Carrier IQ -- a program in most Android, BlackBerry and Nokia devices -- can collect and transmit all sorts of sensitive information to your cell phone carrier, including texts, Google searches, and URLs visited. Of course reps from Carrier IQ itself, along with official statements from cell phone companies that use it, are downplaying the allegations of privacy invasion while privacy advocates are crying foul. Ordinary cell phone users are apparently beginning to worry also, so much so that as Talking Points Memo reports, Sprint and T-Mobile issued now-leaked directives to employees on how to handle customer complaints, offering insight into how the companies justified using Carrier IQ and how they plan on cleaning up the PR mess.
First, Sprint's "Talking Points," leaked by blog SprintFeed, states that "Sprint uses Carrier IQ data to only understand device performance on our network so we can identify when issues are occurring." The script also emphasizes that it "does not and cannot look at or record contents of messages, photos, videos, etc." But TPM notes that "it is intriguing that Sprint doesn’t come right out and deny the most damning accusation about Carrier IQ: That the software is recording keystrokes."
Meanwhile, T-Mobile's internal memo, which first surfaced on TmoNews, gets deeper into the nitty-gritty of what specific technical issues Carrier IQ is used to remedy on smartphones, while denying that emails, texts, voicemails, and the like ever make their way to company servers. T-Mobile argues that Carrier IQ is used to help battery performance, dropped calls, and application failures. But again, the document says nothing specifically about recording keystrokes. And perhaps most importantly, neither tells reps what to say with regard to perhaps the biggest issue people have with Carrier IQ: Why is there no opt-out option?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.