Carrier IQ interview: inside the brave new world of carrier phone tracking | The Verge

by aepxc

You may have heard of the “internet of things,” a vision of the future where cheap sensors are everywhere, and they allow machines to automatically track everything at all times. Over the last few days, we got an eye-opening look into that future thanks to a company called Carrier IQ. Founded in 2005, Carrier IQ provides remote tracking data to cellular network operators including AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, and its software has been loaded on over 141 million phones, primarily in the United States. You’d expect a cellular operator to have access to your phone number, name, address, and billing information, and even be able to see your calls and text messages while you’re connected to the network, no? Well, Carrier IQ takes things a step further by tracking your device even when it’s not connected, and can deliver things you might not expect it to, such as the apps you’re using and the secure URLs you visit in your cellphone browser.

Over the past week, we’ve been tracking Carrier IQ closely. There are plenty of accusations flying around, and plenty of confusion about just what it is that the company does with this data, what kinds of data it collects, and why Carrier IQ’s partners secretly bury the software deep within the operating system rather than asking users to opt into the program. That’s why we sat down face-to-face with Carrier IQ at the company’s Mountain View offices this weekend, where we had a surprisingly open and detailed two-hour conversation with VP Andrew Coward about nearly everything the company does.