Samsung, HTC, and Carrier IQ, a company behind software found on millions of smartphones, have been hit with class-action lawsuits alleging that text messages and keystrokes were illegally intercepted and logged.
The lawsuits from Thursday are in response to a programmer, Trevor Eckhart, who published a video explaining how Carrier IQ's software, operating behind the scenes, logs keystrokes and information sent to secure Web sites like those used in e-commerce.
Carrier IQ says that is erroneous, contending that its software collects data on performance issues for service providers and smartphone manufacturers, such as whether a text message was sent accurately or if an application is draining the battery.
Carrier IQ is aware of various commentators alleging Carrier IQ has violated wiretap laws and we vigorously disagree with these assertions, the company said Thursday.
Service providers that use the software include Sprint and AT&T. They were not named in the suit.
Despite Carrier IQ's comments, plaintiff lawyers are unconvinced. In one suit filed in the Eastern District of Missouri, a group of Samsung Android phone owners allege that the phone maker and Carrier IQ were surreptitiously monitoring and collecting their data.
The other lawsuits filed in California and Illinois federal courts claim that Carrier IQ and the smartphone makers violated a federal wiretap law that makes intercepting electronic communications illegal.
We believe that CIQ was intercepting and collecting private information from smartphone users that they had no right to monitor or record, said Steve Berman, an attorney at Hagens Berman who is representing the California smartphone users. Their actions, in concert with phone manufacturers and the various carriers, should raise the hackles of anyone concerned about privacy in the broadest terms.
Meanwhile, the uproar over Carrier IQ caught the attention of federal lawmakers. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wrote to company CEO Larry Lenhart requesting that the company explain in detail what information the software records and whether it is transmitted to a third party.