Millions of Americans were tapped secretly by a nefarious software company, and with the aid of Samsung and HTC. The controversy is a tornado twisting about Carrier IQ. This company loaded tracking software on consumers’ mobile phones, which has sparked two lawsuits to start with.
The plaintiffs filed the suit on Thursday against Carrier IQ, Samsung, and HTC, claiming the companies failed to adhere to a federal statute banning wiretapping.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are being sought through the class action lawsuits. The plaintiffs filed them in the Chicago and St. Louis courts to win restitution for Americans whose phones had been loaded with the software in question. The basis for these suits is the Federal Wiretap Act. The penalty is $100 daily for each count, violating the ban on “intercepting oral, wire and electronic communications.”
This is huge! While it currently only involves a software company and two of the biggest phone manufacturers, this could engulf carriers and other phone manufacturers. The technology sector of the press burned off many spontaneous declarations that companies of the likes of Nokia and Sprint blurted out in defense of their part in the mess. It is quite the flurry.
While the lawsuits focus solely on Carrier IQ, Samsung, and HTC, that could change with the wind. It is common practice to amend such lawsuits only days after they have begun. Law firms whose job it is to catch the big guys playing naughty, are well prepared with templates and a list of the usual suspects to round up.
We do not yet know the full story, as it is still being revealed. However, a certain security researcher released a video on YouTube exposing the software while it was clearly recording encrypted communications and keystrokes. Of course, Carrier IQ gave the same old song and dance we have heard from every self-avowed “good-hearted” tech company. They claimed they were attempting to aid carriers in improving their service. This was followed by threats to counter-sue the researcher.
Erin Janek, plaintiff and an owner of an HTC Android phone accessing Sprint network, demonstrated that all data sent by her phone, and which was not open to public access, was being hijacked. She had no knowledge that the defendants were secretly collecting her personal data. The complaint was that she did not know, nor had she given them permission to do so.
The latest regarding the issue is that eight law suits have been filed in various states. Among those named in the various suits, we find Apple, Motorola, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The financial impact of these law suits is very specific, as are the impact on privacy.
Even German authorities are jumping on the band wagon. They send a letter to Apple requesting clarification. Apple agreed to stop including portions of Carrier IQ code in Apple products.
Carrier IQ is such a small corporation that it has yet to shape any coherent crisis response. Public opinion is increasing by use of Google reviews, where users have demoted Carrier IQ to a one-star company.