Carrier IQ’s not having a good day. The invasive keylogging software which comes installed on over 140 million Android, Nokia and Blackberry smartphones is embroiled in controversy, and it’s not just creepy… it’s probably illegal, and Senator Al Franken — who once grilled Apple over the so-called LocationGate — is now demanding answers.
First, according to Paul Ohm, a former Justice Department prosecutor and law professor at the University of Colorado Law School, there’s grounds for a class action lawsuit based on a federal wiretapping law.
“If CarrierIQ has gotten the handset manufactures to install secret software that records keystrokes intended for text messaging and the Internet and are sending some of that information back somewhere, this is very likely a federal wiretap.” he says. “And that gives the people wiretapped the right to sue and provides for significant monetary damages.”
On its part, Carrier IQ claims they are only collecting anonymized usage metrics, but Ohm says that doesn’t matter.
“Even if they were collecting only anonymized usage metrics, it doesn’t mean they didn’t break the law,” says Ohm. “Then it becomes a hard, open question. And hard open questions take hundreds of thousands of dollars to make go away.”
“In the next days or weeks, someone will sue, and then this company is tangled up in very expensive litigation,” he adds. “It’s almost certain.”
Meanwhile, Senator Al Franken has sent a long open letter asking Carrier IQ to explain exactly what in the hell it thinks its software is doing.
Update: In the original version of this post, we mistakenly left out an attributing link to our source Ohm’s quotes from Forbes. We apologize for the error.