LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Federal regulators want to know why millions of Americans may be using cell phones loaded with software that tracks every single key stroke they make.
An estimated 150 million phones are loaded with a program called Carrier IQ that records your phone activity and then transmits that personal data to the service provider.
Joshua Topolsky, a tech expert and columnist at the New York Times, USA Today and other told KNX 1070 that customers should always be wary of any information that’s being recorded from their personal cell phone use.
“You obviously don’t want people tracking your moves, tracking your SMS messages, your phone calls,” said Topolsky. “You just want to have an idea and be able to say, ‘I want this’ or ‘I don’t want this happening’.”
A Carrier IQ programmer in Silicon Valley first discovered the software back in November, which subsequently led to meetings with the Federal Trade Commission.
The program has been confirmed to be on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint phones as well as previous versions of the iPhone and Android handsets, Topolsky said.
“Find a phone and you can pretty much find at some point where the software was on it,” he added.
Most service providers, however, denied that any personal data is being transmitted by their networks — a fact that may ultimately mean little to shield customer activity from the feds.
“If the government wants to subpoena a carrier to get some information, that could create a real problem,” said Topolsky.
Carrier IQ recently released a report detailing exactly what types of data is being recorded and reiterated that all collected data was shared only with the relevant carrier.