TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion does not install, nor authorize, its carrier partners to install “Carrier IQ” monitoring software on its BlackBerry smartphones, the company said on Thursday.
RIM made the statement after a security researcher said the “Carrier IQ” application, which can monitor what device users are doing, has been installed on mobile devices from multiple vendors without the knowledge or consent of customers.
“RIM does not pre-install the Carrier IQ app on BlackBerry smartphones or authorize its carrier partners to install the Carrier IQ app before sales or distribution,” RIM said.
“RIM also did not develop or commission the development of the Carrier IQ application, and has no involvement in the testing, promotion, or distribution of the app.”
Trevor Eckhart, the researcher who demonstrated in online videos how the software works, focused on devices using Google’s Android operating system, but he also mentioned other operating systems, including RIM’s BlackBerry and Nokia’s Symbian system as having the software installed.
Nokia also denied their phones used the software.
“CarrierIQ does not ship products for any Nokia devices,” a company spokesman said.
In a statement posted to its website last month, Carrier IQ said its software is used by network operators to help improve network quality and troubleshoot device problems.
“While we look at many aspects of a device’s performance, we are counting and summarizing performance, not recording keystrokes, or providing tracking tools,” the Mountain View, California-based company said.
Since Eckhart’s videos first appeared, a firestorm of criticism has erupted in online forums and on Twitter, where users complain about breach of privacy.
“In principle, technology like this could be highly beneficial to both networks and users, but by crossing the line of what is deemed as acceptable by the privacy lobby Carrier IQ has run into problems,” said Ben Wood, research director at CCS Insight.
Carrier IQ issued a cease-and-desist letter to Eckhard last month before later retracting it and apologizing to the researcher.
Reporting by Alastair Sharp, additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Helsinki; editing by Peter Galloway