Carrier IQ has withdrawn a cease and desist letter against a security researcher who published a report stating its software was used to track the location and usage history of Sprint and Verizon Wireless customers without their knowledge.
Carrier IQ denied the report and took legal action against its author, Trevor Eckhart, alleging he had made false statements about its products and violated its copyrights by publishing proprietary training materials to his website.
The company dropped the motion last week after the Electronic Frontier Foundation came to Eckhart’s defense, saying his “legitimate and truthful research” was protected by the fair use doctrine and the First Amendment.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation also pointed out that Carrier IQ’s training materials were freely available to the public on its website before they were posted by Eckhart. Carrier IQ has since pulled the files from its website.
“We are withdrawing our cease and desist letter to Mr. Trevor Eckhart. We have reached out to Mr. Eckhart and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to apologize,” Carrier IQ said in a Nov. 23 statement. “Our action was misguided and we are deeply sorry for any concern or trouble that our letter may have caused Mr. Eckhart.”
However, Carrier IQ maintains that its software does not record users’ keystroke, catalogue the content of text messages or e-mails, provide tracking tools or real-time data reporting. The company also reiterated that it does not sell its data to third parties.
Carrier IQ’s technology has repeatedly raised privacy concerns because it collects information on the performance of individual cell phones preloaded with its software. For instance, Carrier IQ’s technology can log where and when dropped calls occur.
Sprint and other wireless operators use Carrier IQ’s service to analyze the performance of their network and pinpoint trouble spots. When Eckhart published his report earlier this month, Sprint said it only collected enough information to “understand the customer experience with devices on our network… but we do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool.”