Dec 02 AT 10:35 AM Anthony Domanico 73 Comments

Carrier IQ: And the lawsuits begin

The Carrier IQ saga continues this morning. As we’re all still digesting just how big this issue is, and how big it may become, we attempted to make a little sense of it all in our recap last night. The picture will likely change over the next few weeks, as Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) has challenged Carrier IQ and its customers (HTC, Samsung, Sprint and AT&T) in two separate letters to respond to a series of questions before December 14.

One thing we all knew was that it was only a matter of time before class-action lawsuits started to creep up. (via Gizmodo) has discovered that Carrier IQ, Samsung and HTC have been hit with the first wave of class-action suits, which could result in these companies having to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to affected customers. The lawsuits, filed in Chicago and Saint Louis, seek damages on behalf of all US customers who have had Carrier IQ software installed on their devices.

The primary claim of the lawsuits is that these companies violated the Federal Wiretap Act, which prohibits companies or individuals from intercepting oral, wire or electronic communications. Under the Federal Wiretap Act, the companies face fines of up to $100 per day for each violation, which could easily creep up into the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.

No carriers have been named in any of the Carrier IQ lawsuits to date, though we’re certain that will come next. Verizon is certainly in the clear, claiming to have never used the Carrier IQ service, but Sprint, T-Mobile (thanks, Shield417)and AT&T will likely find themselves in the courtroom soon.

We’ll keep you up-to-date on the Carrier IQ saga as events unfold.

Via: Gizmodo

Source: paidContent

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • Varemenos

    Burn them to the group…

    • Sean the Electrofreak

      Naturally this article made me curious, and so I took a look at the Electronics Communication Privacy Act, and I found the following, which leads me to believe that the lawsuit will be dismissed:

      TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 119 > ยง 2511

      (i) It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for an operator of a switchboard, or an officer, employee, or agent of a provider of wire or electronic communication service, whose facilities are used in the transmission of a wire or electronic communication, to intercept, disclose, or use that communication in the normal course of his employment while engaged in any activity which is a necessary incident to the rendition of his service or to the protection of the rights or property of the provider of that service, except that a provider of wire communication service to the public shall not utilize service observing or random monitoring except for mechanical or service quality control checks.1

  • james bricknell

    Class act lawsuits… only in america..

    • Anthony Domanico

      look on the bright side, we may get $5-10 for our troubles. ha

      • james bricknell

        i’m all for suing Carrier IQ and the carriers that use them IF (and only IF) they use all the data it collects. but the OEMs have all stated it is put in by the carriers and they dont use it themselves. seems stupid to sue them for doing what they are asked by the companies they supply

        • WarDrake

          Anyone willing to install a rootkit on your device at someone else’s request is guilty at the very least by association, they are also guilty of hidding the fact since they never said anything about it.

          • james bricknell

            again only IF it is doing anything wrong. the original issue was not that CarrierIQ exists but that it can be used by 3rd party apps to access all your data.

      • bruce080

        Damnit! Why Can’t Verizon screw up? I want $5!

        • John Walker

          I’m glad they don’t use it, but the news reports the last two days have caused issues with customers I’m sure. I would hate to be in a store or on the other end of a call when a customer calls in because they saw on the news it’s installed on “every” phone and they want it off. I know it’s not, but people don’t always report the news responsibly and consumers don’t always get the full story.

        • Azaurath

          Maybe they used/using something else….

      • charliethesuperturtle

        After 3-4 weeks processing and delivering :(

        • alee

          With these class action settlements, you typically file your form, then wait something like a YEAR before you get coupons that you can only use with the company that settled.

      • cb2000a

        If affected you will receive $1.98…on a debit card.

  • Toonshorty


  • Panatella

    How didn’t any of these company see this coming? I’m kind of suprised it took so long for the people to see this, but the intensity and the worldwide coverage make up to it!

  • mikeyDroid

    Justice shall be served!

  • Kaote

    Privacy is a huge concern when user data is involved, if the telcos had acted with transparency and had this be an opt-in this would not be this big of a deal. As far as class action lawsuits go, nobody profits but the lawyers, pointless in my opinion.

    • Ari32

      Yeah, but no one individual will be able to sue over this. I’ll take the class action lawsuit over nothing. At least this will hurt their company, if not destroy it.

  • Lane Montgomery

    Sweet! I can’t wait for my $5 coupon after the lawyers get their millions of $’s!

    • NegativeOne13

      No coupons to be had with VZW here! :( Maybe if I still had Sprint.

  • koorsr

    I’m kinda confused in why this lawsuit only names manufacturers because it seems to be up the carriers to decide what actually goes on the phones (ie all the bloatware). I would think they would have a better chance going after the carriers too because the information is sent to them and I doubt the manufacturers ever see any of it.

  • stenzor

    That was fast!

    • alee

      It sure is fast. These lawyers run to the courthouse before a rational person could possibly know exactly who can be sued and exactly what they can be sued for.

  • jckeyes

    You think Verizon isn’t using Carrier IQ because they saw this coming… or just using something else?

    • nportelli

      I’m sure they use something else.

      • Anthony Domanico

        Yeah, I’m sure they are using something, but hopefully something that’s not as far-reaching as Carrier IQ.

      • WarDrake

        after this debacle, if they are, it won’t stay hidden for long.

    • oddball

      Verizon uses something else. I don’t know what it is but they send emails reminding you that they want to use your information and that if you wish where to go to opt out. I’ve been with Verizon a while and they have always been upfront about privacy even if they aren’t always the most customer focused carrier

  • nportelli

    I’m sorry, but if anyone actually think that something like this wasn’t happening, then you are ignorant. While I don’t like my potential data being snooped on, I wasn’t surprised. Even is manufacturers and carriers say they don’t use Carrier IQ, I bet they use something to track the amount of data and whatever else is needed to maintain a network. Again, it should send metrics, not the data itself, ie send 300 txts, 300mb data, etc.

    • james bricknell

      i think we all know that happens and is acceptable. however it is the substance of what you use that data for or what information you recieve in texts that is the important issue.

      that should never be available to anyone but you and who you sent the info to..

  • spoon201

    Makes me glad I own a European Nexus S.

    • 666

      I don’t think the American Nexus S’ have it either.

      • Anthony Domanico

        I believe all of the Nexus line of phones (Nexus One, Nexus S, Nexus S 4G, and Galaxy Nexus) don’t have Carrier IQ on. This is because Google is in control of the software on these devices (to some degree, some verizon bloat made its way to the LTE Nexus).

  • Jeb

    Yeah… we all saw this one coming. But it makes me wonder, the Carrier IQ and the companies that purchased their product didn’t see this as a problem? Seems pretty strange, maybe they just didn’t care….

  • archboy69

    People are misguided. I could practically hear the stamped of lawyers like a bison run to this. It is more money for them with stupid people like this failing for the lure of money. It isn’t HTC or Samsung or the OEMs it is the carriers who put this into the phones.

    The main concern here is what is the information and how is it being used and that it should have an opt out. This is like the malls tracking customers with the cellphones. But it is unreasonable for the only way to opt out is to turn off the phone.

    All companies uses analytics to gather data on consumer. If it isn’t CIQ, it is probably something else. They just happen to be in the hot seat at the moment.

    Read an article how someone was outraged that the carriers know the telephone numbers they called…hello? You get a bill at the end of the month which list all the numbers you dialed…

    • Silver

      Yeah I think it was a bit odd. Carrier IQ made the software so that’s bad. But who is the one that purchased those software to INSTALL on the their phones that they carry? The carriers do but they’re not the one being sued.

      It’s like gun manufacturers design and makes guns. Some guy bought the guns and shot someone with it. What do the victim do? Go sue the gun manufacturers.

  • MaxSteel

    Corrupt corps. I say burn ‘em at the stake.

  • Zonk

    Is this why it takes them so long to get updates out? Gotta update their spyware for each new version…

  • Tal

    I wonder how Samsung and HTC were involved. Isn’t the “stack” on the devices being dictated by the carrier? Did Samsung and HTC have a contract directly with CarrierIQ?

    • Anthony Domanico

      The fact that HTC and Samsung are saying they use it suggest that they have it in their UI overlays as well.

      I don’t know that for sure, but that certainly is the implication.

      • John Walker

        It does look like it is since in the video carrieriq seems to use the HTC framework.

  • bryanl

    “… which could result in these companies having to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to affected customers.”

    If this were only true. The only real winners in class action suits are the lawyers.

  • Chad

    Class Act lawsuits…could’ve seen this coming.

  • issac4760

    what kind of information can they take?

  • Greg


  • pikahatonjon

    $5 per carrier branded phone that we’ve used over the years? $$$

  • Hemdroids

    so since im on ATT do i get my $5 please? hungry!

  • Shadowlore

    Here’s the issue I have with these lawsuits (and living in St Louis, I’m kinda PO’d that it’s being filed here):

    Imagine you go out, and invent a new type of baseball bat. All the primary bat manufacturers are in LOVE with the design, and form. So they hire you to develop it in different colors, and different textures.

    Low and behold.. it turns out those baseball bat manufacturers are secretly providing those baseball bats, to serial killers who go on a bludgeoning murder rampage throughout a town.

    Is it horrible and tragic that it happened? Sure. Should you, as the developer and designer be held responsible for those deaths? No.

    This is a prime example of how people in the US seem to jump to conclusions about products too easily. CarrierIQ has openly come out and said they’re employed BY THE SERVICE PROVIDERS to provide this software.

    Suing the manufaturers (HTC, Samsung, etc..) for what the carriers are doing isn’t right, neither is suing the maker of the software. Just because they made a tool that can be used for bad purposes, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a useful purpose as well. It’s not their fault if providers abuse that tool and take advantage of their customers.

    The providers that asked for this tool, implemented it, and required it to be installed on phones can’t plead ignorance to this.. because it’s doing exactly what they asked it to do. All of these providers need to be held liable for what this tool is gathering, and having it installed on phones in the first place.

    Now, if it turns out that HTC (for example) requested this software just for the purpose of what it does, then yes.. they are to be held responsible as well.

    While I welcome the information that TrevE has provided to the community, I think the mainstream media picking up on it has already turned it into a giant witch-hunt. We in the US seem to be unable to point blame correctly.. I wish I understood how anyone with common sense/logic can’t see this.

    • Silver

      Lol! I guess I should not have needed to reply above because you already said exactly what I said. However… your baseball bat analogy is uhh very violent hahaha.

      • Shadowlore

        Ultra violent analogies are often useful to catch the attention of the reader. I could have simply used the analogy that you were hired to dig a ditch on a construction site, and since someone injured themselves in that ditch.. you could be sued (even though you were simply hired to do that simple thing).

        However, as has been pointed out, many more ‘experts’ are starting to come forward stating that the way TrevE is putting his data together is wrong. Will be interesting to see how it all pans out in the long run… but regardless, I think it stinks that companies that really aren’t to blame for this whole fiasco are going to be dragged through the mud for it.

    • John

      Bad analogy…one of these things is not like the other

      • Shadowlore

        Perhaps not, but it makes the point that a company shouldn’t be held liable for their tools/software being misused.

        When 3AM labs first came out (they’re now called: ‘LogMeIn’) they had a tool called ‘Remotely Anywhere’, that many hackers used to take control of remote machines. Just because someone uses something for an illegal/unethical purpose, doesn’t make the manufacturer responsible.

        Sidenote: the reason I’m using the baseball bat analogy is to counter any possible analogy involving ‘Nazi Guards were just doing their jobs’ that I keep seeing rear it’s ugly head online when people point out that CIQ was just doing a job they were hired for.

  • Kaote

    Baseball bat analogy aside, I agree with your post.

  • LukeT32

    Now we know why Verizon’s service cost so much….

    • blaseb


  • dacatalyst41

    How do I opt in for the lawsuit! I WANT MY CHECK! Oh wait….I’m on Verizon. Smh. So….no G-Nex and no check?!

  • lekky

    Wonder how long this has been going on for…

  • blaseb

    Uh oh.. lawsuits are never good..

  • firemountain54


  • falvey6607


  • falvey6607

    always something

  • carlosestremera

    i would like to make some mula if there’s a class-action lawsuit…i heard there was one for t-mobile users once…not sure if it had to do with merger…and fellow student received some money…

  • Dan13

    O good, a whopping 5 smackeroons!

  • drwevil


  • drwevil

    I prefer a more Senator Palpatine type response..
    “Wipe them out…. All of them… ”

    Ie sue or prosecute everyone involved in the poison chalice that is Central IQ.

  • CactusCat

    Good news. There’s an app on the Market that shows whether you have Carrier IQ on your phone or not. Do a search for “Carrier IQ Detect”. Free download and instantly will tell you if you have or don’t have Carrier IQ on your phone. You can share the results if desired. I do not have Carrier IQ on my LG G2X.

    • drwevil

      Nor mine HTC DESIRE HD. :-)

  • Vipitus

    Fortunately Carrier IQ isn’t in Europe.
    I mean on Polish T-Mobile ;)

  • sylar

    Man is all this disturbing. But as I’m always telling all my friends who use facebook (I don’t) there is no such thing as privacy anymore. People also don’t seem to really care anymore.

  • dunneldeen

    I have some distinction in that I work for a wireless provider. I understand what my carrier wants to get from the software and believe there is no nefarious purpose. That said, I do wish I it was more transparent to the end user what is being collected, and I don’t think an opt out ability is too much to ask for. I think, given the choice, there would still be plenty of people that opt in to get the kind of data they are looking for.