Nov. 30, 2011 at 5:53 PM ET
A security researcher and systems analyst says a company's software is secretly logging the keystrokes of Android phone users, as well as those on some BlackBerrys and Nokia devices, although the company that makes the software denies the claims.
The matter has grown so contentious that the company, Carrier IQ, threatened researcher Trevor Eckhart of Connecticut with legal action, but then backed off and apologized after the Electronic Frontier Foundation recently intervened.
David Kravets of Wired's Threat Level has been writing about Eckhart's finding that Carrier IQ software "secretly chronicles a user’s phone experience, from its apps, battery life and texts. Some carriers prevent users who actually find the software from controlling what information is sent."
Other articles have appeared on the issue, but it's Eckhart's video (above) that many find chilling.
"Cringe as the video shows the software logging each number as Eckhart fingers the dialer," Kravets wrote.
Watching all of it may be too much tech for many, but at between 11:30 and 13:30 minutes into the video, you get the picture, as the keystrokes made on the phone screen, including text messages, are logged and shown on another screen.
Eckhart says Carrier IQ's software is a "rootkit," spying on unsuspecting users. Carrier IQ says it is not.
"While we look at many aspects of a device’s performance, we are counting and summarizing performance, not recording keystrokes or providing tracking tools," the company says in a statement.
In its Nov. 23 letter apologizing to Eckhart, shared on the company's site, Carrier IQ said it wanted to make clear what its software does do:
Our software makes your phone work better by identifying dropped calls and poor service. Our software identifies problems that impede a phone’s battery life. Our software makes customer service quicker, more accurate, and more efficient. Our software helps quickly identify trending problems to help mobile networks prevent them from becoming more widespread.