U.S. mobile operator Sprint earlier this week admitted it has sold customers some 26 million phones with the controversial Carrier IQ software installed; now, the company has disabled data collection using Carrier IQ, and says it is evaluating how best to gather network diagnostic information going forward. Sprint’s move was first reported by Geek.com, then confirmed by Mobile Burn and other outlets.
In a statement, Sprint indicated it has disabled its use of Carrier IQ software for the time being, although the company is still evaluating Carrier IQ and its own needs. Sprint maintains that at no time did it ever use Carrier IQ to collect anything other than technical diagnostic information about the operation of its network and handsets.
Sprint has not indicated it is ending its relationship with Carrier IQ, nor has the company indicated whether its decision to disable the software represents a temporary or permanent policy.
The Carrier IQ scandal erupted last month when security researcher Trevor Eckhart discovered the software running on devices used on corporate networks he manages, and began publicly releasing findings that apparently showed the software logging messages and even keystrokes. Carrier IQ has repeatedly tried to defend itself, explaining that its software is used only to collect anonymized network diagnostic information for mobiel operators and does not constitute a breach of user privacy.
Nonetheless, both Carrier IQ, handset makers, and carriers using Carrier IQ’s services have been subjected to strongly negative public backlash, along with multiple class-action lawsuits and inquiries from from Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA). Responding to Franken, Sprint has so far revealed itself to be the carrier with the greatest use of Carrier IQ; in contrast, AT&T says it had Carrier IQ on about 900,000 handsets, or about one percent of its customer base.