About a month ago people learned that smart phones record and transmit data about their users. Only now, some investigators are reporting here that data collected by Carrier IQ, people’s most personal and intimate information, is being collected by law enforcement.
Off the record, some have indicated that law enforcement authorities are even able to remotely turn any cell phone on or off, or operate other features, such as the camera or video equipment. With the phone turned on, police are able to locate a cell phone customer by triangulating the nearest cell phone towers and essentially flushing them out.
With the Carrier IQ software, smart phones record and transmit every website a mobile phone user visits, every text they send. According to AT&T and other providers, it helps them know where calls are dropped, where the cellular network is weak, whether batteries are working properly, and other problems that happen systematically across the network. Firms like AT&T, Sprint, and others claim that the information is transmitted in an anonymous manner that allows the firm to compile metrics on network health, not personal files on each mobile phone user.
Needless to say, there are some obvious privacy concerns where everything a phone does is transmitted to a huge multinational firm with endless hard drive space. Animals that are tagged by researchers with radio collars may live more private lives than most Americans at this point.
From a legal perspective, people should use caution when using their phones. Avoid visiting websites or utilizing files on your phone that you would not want other people to know about. Privacy in America is increasingly just a fantasy.