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Posts Tagged Verizon

Why Carrier IQ is doomed

“Carrier IQ: How the Widespread Rootkit Can Track Everything on Your Phone, and How to Remove It” — That was the title of one of LifeHacker’s posts this Wednesday, which is just one of countless articles on the now-controversial carrier metric-gathering tool Carrier IQ that some are calling “rootkit” and “spyware.”

” … a hidden application on some mobile phones that had the ability to log anything and everything on your device—from location to web searches to the content of your text messages. The program is called Carrier IQ, and … it actually comes preinstalled by the manufacturer of your phone.” — LifeHacker.

Developer Trevor Eckhart posted his YouTube video detailing the proported workings of the Android software, which demonstrates Carrier IQ monitoring keypresses, SMS messages, and browsing, even when the phone is not connected to a carrier network, and transmitting this data to Carrier IQ’s servers. Supposedly this data is then aggregated and then transmitted to the carriers for network and user-experience improvements. Though it’s not necessarily what it is doing, it’s about what it’s capable of doing. Read Eckhart’s detailed article here for his detailed breakdown the capabilities of Carrier IQ.

So I’ll say it once more — Carrier IQ is doomed — at least in its present incarnation. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

LifeHacker, HowToGeek, TechCrunch, BBC News, and others have all run articles on Carrier IQ, typically with one main focus: Detecting it and allowing the user to remove or disable it.The U.S. Senate has started asking questions, and it’s fairly certain that there will be lawsuits. After all, it’s not what you’re doing, it’s what you’re capable of doing:

“Senator Al Franken … has asked Carrier IQ to clarify exactly what its software can do. Franken specifically wants to know what data is recorded on devices with Carrier IQ, what data is sent, if it’s sent to Carrier IQ or carriers themselves, how long it’s stored once received, and how it’s protected once stored.” — The Verge.

If you want Eckhart’s app for checking/removing it on Android, you can get it here. Non-root users, or those having trouble with the above tool, can get a tool that detects but cannot remove Carrier IQ here.

What will be the end result?

If the lawsuits have their way, Carrier IQ is likely to have it’s functionality reduced at the very least, as well as a full disclosure to its presence. It could also mean a visible option to disable it — and that’s if handset manufacturers and carriers continue to use it. At the very most, it will be a huge, drawn-out ordeal, which is very likely. Update: The lawsuits are already underway:

“Carrier IQ, the new poster child for (alleged) smartphone privacy violations, has been hit with two class-action lawsuits from users worried about how the company’s software tracks their smartphone activity.” — ArsTechnica.

If the tech blogs are of any influence (and they are), people will start removing Carrier IQ from their handsets, or switching away from Android to handsets that don’t have Carrier IQ on them. Apple has already stated they are planning to drop Carrier IQ completely in future versions of iOS. RIM has stated that they never had Carrier IQ on BlackBerry handsets to begin with. Microsoft states Windows 7 phones don’t even support Carrier IQ.

Phones aren’t the only devices Carrier IQ may be installed on. Users have started asking questions about tablet devices such as the Nook as well, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 can be rooted to check for the presence of it.

Highly motivated consumers may even choose to switch away from AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile, who use Carrier IQ, to Verizon, who states they do not.

You can bet that, over time, the pressure from customers and negative press towards Carrier IQ will cause the carriers to reconsider the value of it, especially since they might be the ones paying for it in the first place. If you want one last laugh, be sure to read John Gruber’s “translation” of the Carrier IQ press release from November 16th.

Have any thoughts of your own to share regarding Carrier IQ, or would like to share what devices you have or have not found it on? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. Thank you!

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The hunt for the perfect iPhone 4S case…

The iPhone 4S follows the previous iPhone 4 design of having a glass front and back surrounded by a steel band. I didn’t want to get a nice shiny new phone only to have it lose a battle with the concrete like my previous phone did, so I knew I needed a good… no, great case to protect it. But which?

I really like Seidio cases… I’ve used their cases before for a number of my previous phones and I’ve always been happy. I figured I would try the Surface for my iPhone 4S, which I ordered at the same time as I ordered the phone. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, almost any case which fit the iPhone 4 will fit the 4S, as long as it is marked either “any model” or “Verizon” or “CDMA” — read why here.)

So I got my Surface case and I was really happy… for a bit. The case itself seemed to start warping ever-so-slightly after the first few removals. (People keep asking to see the phone with the case off!) I didn’t care too much for this and decided to try something else.

I had read a few reviews encouraging the use of two-part cases — those with rubber or silicone wraps with a hard case that goes over the top — and decided to try the Otterbox Commuter. I can honestly say I didn’t care much for it. It never seemed to fit “right” and the rubber flaps which covered the dock port and the headphone jack were just downright annoying.

I went back to Seidio and found their equivilent — the Active X. It’s an awesome case! Everything seems to fit snugly and it tolerates being removed and replaced just fine.

If you’re looking for an iPhone 4 or 4S case that will handle a busy lifestyle, check it out!

Readers, what are your preferences or experiences with iPhone cases, or any other cases? Please feel free to share in the comments below. Thank you!

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