With the buzz that Carrier IQ and its key-logging software which records keystrokes from millions of phones worldwide has created, a lot of people are now asking, “Is this illegal?’
Former Justice Department prosecutor Paul Ohm says it may be. “If Carrier IQ has gotten the handset manufactures to install secret software that records keystrokes intended for text messaging and the Internet and are sending some of that information back somewhere, this is very likely a federal wiretap,” says the current law professor at the University of Columbia Law School. He adds that owners of these phones will also have the right to sue and ask for significant monetary damages.
The Wiretap Act under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 that forbid acquiring the contents of communications without the users’ consent.
Trevor Eckhart, the systems administrator and market researcher from Connecticut who showed Carrier IQ in action claimed that the software are embedded on Samsung, HTC, Nokia and RIM devices.
Earlier, RIM and Nokia denied these allegations while phone carriers like Sprint and AT&T claim that they only use the information to ”improve wireless network and service performance.”
Requests for comment from Carrier IQ where not granted. However, the company posted a response statement in their website stating that “the information derived from devices is encrypted and secured within our customer’s network or in our audited and customer-approved facilities.
Ohm argues however that although the data are being aggregated and anonymized, it does not mean that Carrier IQ and its customers are not breaking the law. “In the next days or weeks, someone will sue, and then this company is tangled up in very expensive litigation,” he adds. “It’s almost certain.”