android logoLast week, Trevor Eckhart discovered a hidden application on some mobile phones that has the ability to log anything and everything on your device, such as the applications you use, your location your web searches and even the content of your text messages and the mp3s you have listened to. The program is called Carrier IQ and you can find it on a bunch of different devices, including Android, Nokia, and BlackBerry phones. It is present also on iPhones and iPads but with much less capabilites.

Worst of all, after being confronted, phone manufacturers, wireless carriers, and Carrier IQ themselves have tossed around blame, saying they aren't doing anything wrong. Some have and their privacy policies aren't super specific on what they collect and use. Sprint claims they are "unable to look at the contents of messages, photos, or videos" using Carrier IQ, but Eckhart claims differently. I highly recommend reading Eckhart's article for a deeper look at how Carrier IQ works and how it's manifested itself on certain devices.

Here is how you can find out whether your phone is running Carrier IQ. If you have a rooted Android phone download Logging Checker by TrevE from xda forums. Afterwards run "CIQ Checks" which will tell you whether Carrier IQ is running on your system. This application also checks for HTC loggers installed through the "HTC Logging Tools" function.

trevor logging_ciq_checker_1

If you want to remove it from your device, you have two choices. Either flash a custom ROM that doesn't contain Carrier IQ, or use Eckhart's Logging Test App to remove it. Both solutions require rooting your phone.

To remove it with the Logging Test App, download the original app and then buy the $1 pro license from the Android Market. Then, open it up, hit the Menu button, and tap "Remove CIQ". This will completely remove it from your device. Of course you'd better do a nandroid backup before removal.

 trevor logging_ciq_checker_2

There is one more application avalaible in the market that doesn't require root priviledges to check for Carrier IQ. It's called Voodoo Carrier IQ Detector but its results are not reliable yet as its developer claims. However you can give it a try if you don't have a rooted Android phone.

Note that if you're running an Android Open Source Project (AOSP) based ROM, like CyanogenMod, you do not have Carrier IQ installed on your system. These apps are based on the original, open source version of Android, and don't include any carrier or manufacturer additions like Carrier IQ. If you're using a modded version of your manufacturer's ROM, however, such as a modded HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz ROM, you could still have it installed.

Here is a video from Trevor talking about Carrier IQ

Carrier IQ does run on iOS as well, but in a much more stripped down version that isn't so offensive regarding privacy. It's also very easy to turn off. For more technical information you can check out this blog post. To turn it of go to Settings > General > About > Diagnostics and Usage and click "Don't send".


Apple has issued a statement regarding Carrier IQ.

“We stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so.”

I've tested both Trevor's Logging Checker on my HTC Desire (running a rooted version of Gingerbread 2.3.3 with HTC Sense) and showed that it's clean from Carrier IQ. The HTC Logging of Trevor's app however gave me this result


I have to take a look on what those things are... Have you checked your phone?

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