Democrats call for hearing on cellphone-tracking software

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Carrier IQ's software, which is embedded in millions of smartphones, is designed to help cellphone companies track the performance of their devices. The technology collects information on the phone numbers consumers dial, the contents of their text messages, the websites they visit, their search queries and even their locations.

"Data collection and transmission by Carrier lQ and similar software is widespread, and consumers appear to have little knowledge and even less control over the practice," the lawmakers wrote.

Carrier IQ argues that most of the personal information it collects stays in the user's cellphone and is not transmitted back to the company. They say they only gather information that would be helpful to evaluate the phone's performance.

The software first made headlines in November, when a researcher posted a YouTube video claiming to show that Carrier IQ tracks users' every keystroke. The company says the keystroke tracking was the result of a vulnerability in the Android operating system.

"If true, these conclusions are also troubling," the Democrats wrote. "The Android vulnerability could have left this keystroke information available to any third-party whose software had been installed on a user's phone."

The lawmakers said the hearing should evaluate whether the technology poses privacy and security risks to consumers and whether phones were sold with security flaws.