(Updated With T-Mobile Statement) T-Mobile Forum Moderator Confirms Presence Of Carrier IQ Software In T-Mobile Smartphones

Update: T-Mobile has just emailed me a statement regarding Carrier IQ:

“T-Mobile utilizes the Carrier IQ diagnostic tool to troubleshoot device and network performance with the goal of enhancing network reliability and our customers’  experience . T-Mobile does not use this diagnostic tool to obtain the content of text, email or voice messages, or the specific destinations of a customers’ internet activity, nor is the tool used for marketing purposes.”

The last few days has seen a significant swell of information on pre-installed software from Carrier IQ on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile smartphones. A security research and systems analyst was able to independently discover that the Carrier IQ software secretly logs the keystrokes of Android phones along with some Blackberry and Nokia devices. You can see the demo video below which shows in no uncertain terms the amount of information including the exact text of SMS messages this software is able to collect.

So far T-Mobile hasn’t commented on the Carrier IQ situation though AT&T and Sprint have come out denying that they collect any information. T-Mobile has promised a statement about the matter soon. Furthermore, you can see in the now-deleted T-Mobile forum post below another T-Mobile employee confirming the presence of the software but doesn’t show any cause for concern. The above (and still available thread) image has a T-Mobile forum moderator indicating that some information is collected “in the device to help T-Mobile improve their network” and links to Carrier IQ website for more details.

This matter isn’t going anyway anytime soon as United States Senator Al Franken has called on Carrier IQ to explain their mobile tracking software by December 14th, 2011. The Senator’s letter indicates that Carrier IQ may have violated federal privacy laws and concludes this is a very serious matter.

We have a feeling this already red-hot story is going to get a lot hotter.

T-Mobile, Carrier IQ

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  • Nate42

    Can’t wait to get my pure, unlocked Google Nexus Prime! I’m tired of bloated T-Mobile phones and on top of that, full of crapware- and now a key logger!!

    • Anonymous

      Pure?

      I guess you aren’t buying it inside the US. ;-)

      • Anonymous

        Are you unaware of the unlocked GSM model available right now? Unless I’m missing what you’re saying, it’s a nexus anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Cyanogen <3.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Micah-Madru/100001151887665 Micah Madru

    If it is so “harmless” why wasn’t anyone notified about it? Why didn’t we have the option to not take part in it, and why was Carrier IQ so hostile against the dev that discovered it.

    I think the company and carriers need to face lawsuits over this.

  • Anonymous

    The beauty of our country. SUE SUE SUE SUE SUE. oops.. meant to reply to Micah.

  • http://twitter.com/meek_420 Mike

    I’m new to android community, but from what I understand if you flash a custom ROM you can avoid “most” of this dangerous rootkit. With all the data thievery that has taken place why the hell would they think this application would be a good idea? Violation of HTTPS?? Class action lawsuit or worse…

    • Anonymous

      That’s correct. If you truly want to be without this rootkit, virus, or whatever you’d like to call it – You must go custom ROM.

    • Anonymous

      Aside from the fact that since even Blackberry is affected, and pretty much every Federal Law Enforcement employee (Or even local Law Enforcement, and a slew of other industries) most likely uses one.. (or Android or iPhone for that matter..) puts up a red flag by itself..

  • Anthony

    In my experience as a T-Mobile consumer and long time employee I can almost certainly guarantee that T-Mobile does nothing to look into/ better help your mobile performance or satisfaction.

    It seems if this were in fact true, that when placing a call to T-Mobile support they would have this information and be able to help.

    Instead, you play phone tag with care until you either:
          A) Get someone knowlegdable enough to help (Fat chance!)
          B) Get passed around so many times that the call quality degrades and you cant hear
          C) They hang up
          D) after hours of them pretending to troubleshoot and fix said problem, they offer you a new device

    • Anonymous

      No, they would have the information, but they use it over the phone, then you’d ask things like.. “How did you know that?” and Carrier IQ would have been discovered even quicker when the media gets a hold of information about customer support conversations like that.

  • Anonymous

    T-Mobile continues to spoon feed us their bullshit (much like other carriers) and we have no option but to take it and try to enjoy it to the best of our abilities. I feel like my privacy is completely at stake and regardless of what anyone says, I should not have to load a custom ROM to feel safe. I love to tinker with my phone but I love doing so as a choice.

    • Jack

      Then when your contract is up, cancel and buy from….oh…most manufacturers are doing it….Ok. Then you can buy a prepaid and toss it every month. Then your privacy of watching porn will not be in danger. Really, how else is the network of any carrier supposed to know whats going on with any phone besides tracking it in some way? If you hate the service in anyway…then dont keep it. 

      And you wont be able to get out of the contract using this carrier IQ excuse. Read the fine print….they can do what they want when it comes to testing and tracking the network. 

      • Anonymous

        You see, jackass… It’s ignorant assumptions like that which make what the carriers are doing okay in their eyes. Hate to break it you jackass but I have much better things to do with my time than watch porn on my phone. 

  • Lee

    Sheeple, the only way to show these powers that be is to return the phones and demand to be released from contract unless the carriers sell unlocked phones bereft of all tracking apps.

    • Anonymous

      Most North American consumers don’t even know what an unlocked phone is.

      They might get upset with the tracking, but only because of all the press coverage.

      • Anonymous

        Well in a situation like this, media coverage is very important. I’ve been considering unlocked phones for awhile now. There’s plenty of phones that T-Mobile doesn’t carry and compare (or beat) T-Mobiles offerings such as the LG Optimus 3D and even EVO 3D. You might have to hunt but there are phones that are compatible with our carriers frequencies.

    • Jack

      Customers in North America have this mindset that carriers make the phones and could just hand them out for free all the time, as long as there is a contract. Much different from European companies that do sell full priced unlocked phones. Tmobile is the only carrier that at least gives an options to purchase at full price without contract if you want. While other carriers make it seem impossible, you can also do that with them as well, but they do make it more difficult. Even some tmo reps in stores likely do that as well. 

      But customers here in US do not understand the idea of the price of devices and why they sign a contract. If they buy the phone subsidized, the carrier is eating the cost of the phone for close to 20 months. Thats when the carrier starts making money. If a customer cancels their contract before then, that is why they have $200 fee. The carrier has to get back the money they lost on providing you that smartphone. Even if its a crappy phone, its still a fee, because they have to make it standard fee across the board. But when people are in only a contract for 3 months, and lose their phone, and then expect the company to give them ANOTHER free phone, its just stupid. People in general are really ignorant to that. Maybe not a lot of people here, but I guarantee most people are when it comes to the Mobile companies. I would love to have it where people purchase phones straight from the manufacturer, full price, and have their mobile SERVICE provider provide the service. That way, you can blame the manufacturer of the device, not the carrier. 

      Sorry for the rant. Some of it is off subject.

  • Byounngg
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Matthews/100000189923615 James Matthews

    Not on my HD7 though. :)

    • Bluemoon737

      Supposedly not on my Amaze either. I do find it odd that just last night a pop up showed up on the TMO forums for the Sensation (wife’s phone) talking about a “new” service tracking software they were wanting folks to volunteer for and if they did TMO would send them the info to activate the software and then would send out info to disable it in about a month (in other words they were going to run the test for a month). Sounds pretty suspicious to me and could be their way to “install” the software that already exists.

  • Mow

    Then they cry about bandwidth usage and charge for data overges

    • JBLmobileG1

      I was just going to say… if they use our data for this and it counts towards our usage… that is just plain wrong and should be ilegal. (even if it only uses very little)  I once had unlimited data with no slow down but ever since they put the 5GB cap… everytime I hit that my speed slows to a craw.  I have the unlimited data plan and I expect unlimited.  True the connection works… but try updating any apps from the market and it could take quite some time (example Angry Birds).  Before anyone starts to ask how on earth I ever even hit 5GB… well… I also have the tethering plan for $14.99 and use it as my sole internet for my PC. (5GB can go quicker than one may think).

      • Jack

        If the feature was sold to you correctly, the teathering feature was not intended to be purely your only source of internet. Its meant to be a backup of sorts. Just as Cellphones were to landlines 5-10 years ago, Mobile broadband/tethering is to your cable/dsl internet. So its hard to complain when you are using the service wrong. Mobile networks aren’t at this point built up enough to be able to provide so much data to users such as yourself in such a manner. Not yet at least. While the the cable companies and DSL are. Tough it out and stop complaining. The fact you’re are able too in the first place is amazing. 

        • Jack

          Tethering*

        • JBLMOBILEG1

          If Tmobile didn’t expect you to use their service as a form of Internet for your PC then please tell me why they sell usb data sticks that support 42mbps download speeds and at one time offered an actual Netbook? I am not playing games and watching youtube 24-7 however I do check my email, pay bills, and surf the web. I also update my anti virus and windows as needed. So after awhile… along with my phone use… the 5gbs can deplete quickly. Just updating my phones apps can use a good chunk of data. I was able to tether for free long before I added the $14.99 fee… I just figured to play it safe I would add so they couldn’t say I was not following my agreement in the contract.

        • http://twitter.com/WillieFDiazSF William Diaz ✔

          In most cases if you were caught they would ask you to add the plan anyway. If you opted not to and continued to freely tether, they could say you are in violation of the contract and terminate your service (of course after many warnings and notifications of 30 days to port your number to another carrier). If they do however, they are at the burden of proof if you took the matter to court for them trying to charge you a termination fee, since they have to prove you violated the terms and conditions that resulted in your termination and fees associated with said termination. Good luck getting the carrier to prove it….Unless they are going to use Carrier IQ to continue to spy on you.

        • Anonymous

          Then why must it be called Unlimited? Why not call it the 5gb plan, the 2gb plan, whatever. But the moniker Unlimited becomes misleading the moment your data is limited, which all carriers do. Just want the plans to be named as they are, and tired of seeing lies.

        • http://twitter.com/WillieFDiazSF William Diaz ✔

          The tethering feature was not intended to NOT be purely your only source of internet either.

          If you chose to pay for something and use it, then thats how it works. You dont pay for a car on the basis its not intended to be driven more than 50 miles, so why would you think that tethering on an “unlimited” plan would not be intended to be used, regardless if its used as a primary internet connection?

          Aside from the T&C T-Mobile states on the Tethering plans, if it was that big of a deal and people abused it, T-Mobile would pull a Sprint and limit ALL DATA on the phone to 5GB once people add the Tether plan. T-Mobile does not, instead they throttle data across the board, not just on the plan itself.

  • Guest

    If you have a G2 and can’t permanently root, how do you get rid of CIQ?

    • Guest

      just realized what I asked.

      • Nick

        According to Gizmodo, the G2 is on the short list of phones that probably doesn’t have CIQ.

    • Anonymous

      The G2 still has that problem?

      • J-Hop2o6

        My G2 been perm rooted and s-off’d for a year.. don’t know what he’s talking about.

    • Anonymous

      Why can’t u permanently root?

  • Greg

    I don’t know how I feel about this yet.

    The carriers claim it’s nothing, and the naysayers are shouting that it’s illegal and immoral and altogether horrible. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

    We’ve seen what the guy in the video sees from  debug mode, but we don’t know what actual info is or isn’t being shared by CIQ with T-Mobile or anyone else.   

    To a degree I do tend to lean more toward what the carriers are saying. From experience I can say that data centers can learn a lot just by getting a small amount of information from thousands of individual devices — millions in this case. They are not interested in who and what you’re texting. They don’t care that you’re going to visit Joe’s Porno Shack down the road, and they aren’t interested in listening in on your calls. Even so, I would like to know just what they’re relaying, how it’s being used, and by whom. 

    • guest

      You’re exactly right. The carrier has so little interest in low level stuff it’s not even worth their time. They want debug reports from crashes, not contents of texts (they already have that if they want it, I don’t see the big issue with text reading).

      The only possible thing they didn’t already have access to is key logs, which honestly, what carrier is going to read key log strokes for customers?

      I appreciate the people championing my online security, and I agree, if you want an opt out you should have it. But I as an internet user already opt into so many services that track my usage, this hardly seems like a gross overstep by tmobile

  • http://twitter.com/Krylon360 Bryce Walter

    TMONEWS Check your twitter.
    @Krylon360

    • http://tmonews.com David

      I caught it, I have no idea what I am looking at.

      • http://twitter.com/Krylon360 Bryce Walter

        That is all the code for CarrierIQ. :)
        I’ll dig more into it tomorrow or later tonight while I have some drinks.

  • JaysOn

    This has potential to be a HUGE issue.  Saw it on NBC Nightly News just now.  Is this only on Android and not iOS?  The NBC story made it seem it didn’t apply to iPhones.  Funny, Ive had Android for only a few weeks but have had a hellish time with screen freezes, power cycling, battery problems, phone crashes, forced closes, soft resets, factory resets and more – You’d think someone would have mentioned this technology to try to fix the problem.  Instead the blamed the victim and told me to go find another carrier.  I will.  Thanks.

    • Anonymous

      I’m sure it does affect iPhone, but since Apple is the only one that makes the phones and VZ, Sprint and ATT are denying to use CIQ.. They can deny that iPhone has it to the end, until some developer that jailbreaks finds the CIQ software running in secret, unless its already been removed..

      • Bratty

        The matter for iOS already has been researched. It does not have it to the extent some android phones have. Its use is limited and will bed fully gone soon. You can actually turn it off in settings unlike some androids.

    • Anonymous

      Apple’s latest statement is that iOS 5 no longer supports it and a future software update will remove it completely. I’d be happy to own an iPhone right about now…

    • http://ashn.myopenid.com/ Ash

      It is on iOS as well. but apple said they will remove it later on.

  • Danny

    I just experienced this today.

    My new Galaxy S2 suddenly died.  It had a full charge but went out anyways.  I kept trying unsuccessfully to do a master reset.

    I finally got my phone to power on.  When it booted on the iq software came up asking me if my “issue was resolved?”

    It was weird how my phone knew something was wrong.  Kind of creeped me out.

    • Anonymous

      It was weird how your phone knew something was wrong? How is that any different than a diagnostic or error reporting tool on a desktop computer? This IQ software is new to me, and I actually don’t have a Tmobile branded phone, but generally speaking, wouldn’t you expect and want your smartphone to know something is wrong?

      • Anonymous

        Honestly, not if its recording stuff that it shouldn’t be recording..  Besides, if my phone breaks, then I call customer service or take it to a store anyway. Edit: I’d also want the battery that it would use back.. <__<

  • tomarone

    It is good to put a magnifying glass on this issue and keep it there. The CarrierIQ software can use data, crash the phone, take up cpu cycles, take up bandwith, not just spy on what you’re doing. The mobile phone companies might not use the information but of course the govt needs a way to montor for security purposes in addition to everything else. But is a good thing to examine and evaluate. Just don’t become a victim of paranoia. not healthy.

    • Greg

       Agreed it’s best to find out exactly what it’s doing before jumping to conculsions.

      • Anonymous

        The fact that it would add to already dismal battery life is =[ for many as it is..

  • John

    A. I don’t appreciate software installed that uses my battery and data and CPU, but there is plenty of preinstalled bloatware that does that anyway. So… whatevs.

    B. If they aren’t tracking the content of my messages, why are they using software that logs my keystrokes?

  • Frigadroid

    I knew it and people said I was crazy. The deal with the data switch gave it away. I though it to be odd that my g1 with background data off & wifi on never sleep was still using data. Now we know for sure.

  • Fish

    It’s not on my Nexus S.

    Nexus or bust.

  • TMoFan

    Maybe what the carriers are saying is true, but just the fact that all this info is captured is disturbing. How can I be assured that my personal info is safe at the other end? And if it’s so harmless why is it impossible to remove without rooting the phone, or at least opt-out? When I enter in my cc info through an ssl site I have an expectation of privacy that only me and the site I’m communicating with knows that info. Not some garbage rootkit that logs everything.

    • Anonymous

      Well said.

  • Tuliom Mesa

    I feel like tmonews should open a section on how to root phones because of this issue.
    Im rooting my phone tomorrow sg2 prepare to be rooted

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/35HLVJSI34LMH5M274SCGWDZBY mike

    Big Brother in Blue Suits, Patriot Act anyone?

  • Stu

    Wow! If this is the case, then why does my network still SUCK!

  • Enoel69

    Is this present on unlocked phones like the N1, NS, and G-Nex?

    • http://twitter.com/BruceCLin Bruce Lin

      not in the ones you listed.

  • Nick

    My phone is my property and I would never expect the seller of that property to receive any information about how I use my property.  I would never buy a tv knowing that the manufacturer would get info about what I watch so that they can “improve the exerience.”

    I’ve got a rooted G2 so my phone doesn’t have Carrier IQ (according to Gizmodo), thankfully, but this should be completely unacceptable to anyone with any common sense and I’m glad Sen Franken is looking into this.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7MOKQBK44A5AY4IZP4HNHY4V4M Bob

    They are offering to remove it for Business Customers only why? If I had it on my phone I would demand it taken off even as a non-business customer. By offering the service to business customers they are admitting its a security issue.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D2IXQBNV6AFXKA653G5R5CX5ZQ Donot

    I got out of my contract with tmobile because of carrier iq. The rep tried to tell me I would have to pay ETF. I reminded him of the current class action lawsuits pending, and that was that. No, ETF. Kept the phone.

  • Emiltu

    HEEEELOOOOO, people, !!!!
    DOES ANYBODY notice the ripoff the T-Mobile is mastering these days???

     It’s about the INTERNET THROUGH A PHONE, which NOW (yet the Cust. Svcs. says it’s as
     old as over a year and a half!!! A TOTAL BULL…!)

    I purchased my MyTouch 4G SPECIFICALLY to use my laptops at home and was sold the 4 lines and a tablet
    for that particular reason ONLY. I had a perfect set of smart phones before that.

    So, now T-Mobile says YOU HAVE TO PAY TO TETHER, $14.95/mo… WHAT KIND OF MISLEADING INFO/ADVERTISING
    IS THIS? Anybody ???
    Helooooo…???

    THIS IS    I L E A G A L !!!

    THIS IS DOUBLE - I repeat – D O U B L E !!! CHARGE for the same “DATA” plan… Data Plan MEANS INTERNET and the
    company DOES NOT SPEND ANY cent if Internet is being used by the phone or THROUGH the phone – it is the SAME BROADBAND,

    NOT TO FORGET the English Language being TARNISHED by this  ABJECTLY GREEDY German company, by changing the
    meaning of “UNLIMITED” to a NUMBER. A finite number which is – SURPRISE ! – smaller than TEN (10) !!!

    We have to take this firm OUT OF OUR COUNTRY, BACK TO IT CAME FROM… I’d be interested if the Germans are putting up
    with such crooks…I suspect it is the “American” management who acts as if nobody is watching…