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Markey Seeks Info on Carrier IQ

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has called for a government investigation into Carrier IQ software after reports that the software, which has been installed on millions of smartphones and other mobile devices, tracks every keystroke and sends it to the company, all without the user's knowledge or permission.

The FTC is empowered to file suit against the company if it concludes that is an unfair or deceptive act, which Markey wants it to use to investigate the software.

"I have serious concerns about the Carrier IQ software and whether it is secretly collecting users' personal information, such as the content of text messages," said Markey. "Consumers and families need to understand who is siphoning off and storing their personal information every time they use their smartphone. I am asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate this practice, and I will continue to monitor this important privacy issue."    

A source speaking on background said Markey directed his letter to the FTC rather than the company because his concern is not just with the software, but with how it was being used by device makers and carriers to track info and delivering it so it could be mined.

In his letter, Markey points to an article in Wired magazine about the software, which is used on most Android, Blackberry and Nokia devices, Markey said.

Markey, co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, has been a frequent correspondent on privacy issues. He asked the FCC for an update on any investigations it might be doing or planning on software that "secretly tracks and reports back the activities of cell phone users."

He asked for an answer by Dec. 20.