The controversy over stealthy monitoring software by CarrierIQ has raised important questions about user privacy and business ethics in the Brave New World of smart phones, tablets and the like. In the uproar over CarrierIQ’s surreptitious monitoring of mobile phone users, various tools have appeared that claim to be able to detect the software. However – removing CarrierIQ from your phone is another matter entirely. And,while some sites have offered instructions on doing so, Kaspersky Lab researcher Tim Armstrong said that, for all but a few mobile phone hardware experts, doing a CarrierIQ-pendectomy is a bad idea.
“The software simply can’t be removed by the average user,” Armstrong writes in a blog post on Securelist. “Even if a person ‘roots’ or ‘jailbreaks’ their phone to remove the software, there have been reports that this breaks functionality , or even ‘softbricks’ or temporarily renders the phone inoperable. Some other users are flashing custom ROM’s to their systems. These are customized full replacements of the vendor installed operating system. In some cases, users are still finding Carrier IQ files present after doing so.”
Not that Armstrong doesn’t sympathize that those who want to rid their phone of the noxious wares.
“I have no problem with improving service. I hate dropped calls too. What I do have a problem with is service providers who are intentionally uninformative about what they are doing with your data on a device you’ve paid for, and then not allowing any type of removal or opt-out. Even though this is probably not illegal, it is certainly unethical,” he writes.
Read the rest of Tim’s post on Kaspersky Lab’s Securelist blog.