Cellphone companies accused of violating wiretap law

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Lawmakers including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) have demanded more information about the tracking software.

In a Nov. 30 letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee to Carrier IQ, lawmakers claimed the software could violate federal law and called the issue "a potentially very serious matter."

Carrier IQ says its software is designed to ensure that phones are operating effectively and does not transmit personal information.

"While a few individuals have identified that there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video," the company said in a news release last week. "For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen."

The company quoted Rebecca Bace, a security analyst at Infidel, Inc., saying "allegations of keystroke collection or other surveillance of mobile device user’s content are erroneous."

But the class-action lawsuit claims that by using the software, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Apple, HTC, Motorola and Samsung violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

"This latest revelation of corporate America’s brazen disregard for the digital privacy rights of its customers is yet another example of the escalating erosion of liberty in this country," said David Straite, one of the attorneys leading the lawsuit. "We are hopeful that the courts will allow ordinary customers the opportunity to remedy this outrageous breach.” 

BGR first reported about the lawsuit.