Carrier IQ on webOS? Nothing to see here...
So you may have heard about this brouhaha going on over at our sister sites CrackBerry, Android Central, and TiPb. They call it “Carrier IQ”, which in essence is a data collection system that monitors how you use your smartphone and reports back to the installer about how your phone operates. We’ve seen it claimed on BlackBerry smartphones, though RIM contends that they don’t allow it (though that’s not to say that carriers don’t do it anyway), discovered to be insecurely implemented and tracking a lot of actions on HTC smartphones, and was recently removed from iOS devices. XDA-Developers’ TrevE did some digging with his Android phone and discovered it was going so far as to even be logging individual keystrokes.
It’s caused quite the blogger storm, mostly because we hate it when something’s going on without our knowing about it (see: iPhone location tracking). Surely, most of what Carrier IQ is tracking is innocuous and anonymous info that likely has gone to improving our devices, but that we didn’t know the extent of what was happening is what has people peeved.
So what about that webOS smartphone you’re holding onto? Is it tracking your every movement and reporting back to black-hooded evil overlords intent on world domination and the eradication of paninis? Nope.
HP webOS Chief Architect Brian Hernacki (who rose to the position after being Chief Security Architect at Palm and working at Symantec [LinkedIn profile]) took to Twitter to answer the question of “is Carrier IQ on webOS?” And the answer was one lacking the evasiveness and corporate double-speak of other manufacturer responses: “There is no carrierIQ in webOS,” says Hernacki.
Both AT&T and Sprint have admitted to using Carrier IQ on their handsets, and that’s worth noting. The company’s name is Carrier IQ after all, not OEM IQ or Mobile Accomblisher IQ. It’s Carrier IQ, and the work at the behest of the carriers, who are always looking for new ways to squeeze an extra penny out of every customer. It’s also worth noting that Apple’s response to the Carrier IQ question indicated that the OS must have support for Carrier IQ to be able to suck up data about what you’re doing. If that support isn’t there, then the app can’t function. That’s likely why we don’t see Carrier IQ on devices running webOS or Windows Phone – Palm and Microsoft either declined or simply refused to build support for the tracking software into their mobile operating systems.
For our part, this is the kind of mess in the smartphone world we're glad to sit out. Have at it, boys.