Linked by Howard Fosdick on Sun 18th Dec 2011 05:12 UTC
Bugs & Viruses AT&T has told the U.S. Congress that its customers agreed to host Carrier IQ tracking software on their cellphones in their contracts. You might recall that, after the scandal over warrentless surveillance broke in 2006, AT&T quietly changed their contract for internet service to say that it -- not its customers -- owns all the customers' internet records. Those concerned about privacy might consider whether AT&T merits their trust.
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Comment by daedliusswartz
by daedliusswartz on Sun 18th Dec 2011 08:40 UTC
daedliusswartz
Member since:
2007-05-28

I think the reality is most people don't read their contracts assuming it's just standard stuff, and I think AT&T know it.

If the consumers really knew about it, there wouldn't have been such an outcry, nor I suspect would AT&T have sold as much.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by daedliusswartz
by Moredhas on Sun 18th Dec 2011 11:10 UTC in reply to "Comment by daedliusswartz"
Moredhas Member since:
2008-04-10

When I was working for Optus, I had to take customers through their contracts, explaining every clause, and then lead them through a checklist which restated everything in point form. They'd have to confirm each point as understood. Australian consumer law frowns on shoving something under the customer's nose and saying "sign this". The responsibility lies with the customer service representative to ensure the customer understands. Not that it goes that way with most salesmen, but I have scruples and a desire not to get charged with a breach of the Trade Practices Act, and fined more than three times my annual income...

Reply Score: 5

A new compulsory class in schools
by rebel787 on Sun 18th Dec 2011 12:19 UTC
rebel787
Member since:
2007-01-13

Maybe we need separate contracts(the bill + privacy contracts)... and clear to understand ;)
If this happens it will feel less sneaky.

Anyways... like computer science, some kind of law class seems to be fitting as a compulsory subject.

OSNews readers are much more informed and let me say thanks ;)

Reply Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

rebel787,

I'm not sure I've understood who your proposing the class is for? For us as consumers? Or for those who write up the agreements?

If it's the later, then I don't think it's an education problem - they know exactly what they're putting in the agreements and they take advantage of the fact that most people won't read them and can't understand them.

Reply Score: 2

rebel787 Member since:
2007-01-13

rebel787,

I'm not sure I've understood who your proposing the class is for? For us as consumers? Or for those who write up the agreements?

If it's the later, then I don't think it's an education problem - they know exactly what they're putting in the agreements and they take advantage of the fact that most people won't read them and can't understand them.


I was thinking more broadly and on two levels... or maybe more grassroots level.

1. Now. Give me two documents to sign. Clearly explained.
2. Inform the kids.

Thom's been informing us, with unwavering energy.
The issues raised defines this and future generations.
I'm South African and computer science/lectures are not compulsary in shools. Sad.
Along with compulsary computer lessons would be the new course: Software Legal Crap 101.
Also compulsary for the kids ;)

Think about the youth my friends. Think about the youth.

Reply Score: 2

HumancentiPad
by Alfman on Sun 18th Dec 2011 14:26 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

Is anyone else reminded of this episode of south park? It shows an extremely tasteless portrayal of end user agreements gone awry.

http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s15e01-humancentipad [6:50-?]

Reply Score: 6

RE: HumancentiPad
by Neolander on Mon 19th Dec 2011 12:14 UTC in reply to "HumancentiPad"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Direct connection ? Failed.
UK VPN ? Failed.
Canadian VPN ? Failed.

Is this website US-only or what ? Gotta find myself one US VPN too then ! ;)

Reply Score: 1

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Sun 18th Dec 2011 19:02 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

Of course people don't read them. The average Joe doesn't know how to interpret the technical legal jargon, which is often times overly wordy to be intentionally discouraging. I have been in meetings where this exact topic was discussed. There is no shortage of companies willing to exploit (which is what it really is) peoples lack of knowledge and plain laziness. Confuse them enough and they will concede to whatever.

One thing is certain, you shouldn't need to hire a lawyer to go over a cell phone contract with you... As a customer, this stuff completely disgusts me.

Reply Score: 2

Phloptical
Member since:
2006-10-10

Welcome to capitalism, folks, where your privacy and security is as disposable as the junk you're paying top dollar for because clever marketing ads have convinced you that you "need" these goods in your lives.

In this age of Affluenza, no one has a right to complain. Just sign the papers, use your cheap asian made crap, and go on with your lives. You are not an individual, you are a statistic and a demographic, to be analyzed and studied by the rest of the bean counting, data miners of the Fortune 500 corporate elite.

Reply Score: 4

AT&T Thinks It's OK!
by benali72 on Sun 18th Dec 2011 19:40 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

What's interesting here, if you read the comments made by the AT&T spokesman in the article, is that AT&T is not on the defensive over this. They think it's OK. It's ok to surveil their customers, and it's ok that they buried this so-called "agreement" in fine print that they know most cusomters would not understand. That's how they view it.

Reply Score: 4

CarrierIQ is NOT a big deal
by modmans2ndcoming on Sun 18th Dec 2011 19:54 UTC
modmans2ndcoming
Member since:
2005-11-09

It is collecting metrics information in order to make sure the QoS is maintained. how pissed would customers be if their calls were dropped or their data connectivity sucked all the time or was unpredictable?

Reply Score: 1

AnythingButVista Member since:
2008-08-27

AT&T is the company with the MOST dropped calls, despite relying on Carrier IQ so there's no excuse for their espionage.

Reply Score: 3

modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

Collecting the data and executing on network improvements are not necessarily linked. It is NOT espionage. If your carrier did not have any data on your usage then your device would not function. They can collect all the data that carrier IQ collects, but carrierIQ does all the heavy lifting for them so they get useful statistics with a COTS product rather than having to develop the software themselves in order to perform QoS analysis on their networks.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: CarrierIQ is NOT a big deal
by zima on Sun 25th Dec 2011 23:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: CarrierIQ is NOT a big deal"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Carriers in general never do any significant number of infrastructure tools themselves (heck, they often aren't the ones actually building and maintaining their network)
It was always ~COTS; and such analysis can work also on the side of the network, which - as you say yourself - needs to actively track the state of connected devices anyway, to maintain that connection.

Curiously - many places where mobile phone networks are generally held in high regard ...somehow manage to not rely on CarrierIQ* / such style of tools. What the "network tools" provide seems more than enough (well, at least if a nicely functioning network with good coverage is the actual goal, I guess)


*working only on some smartphones, that's a great QoS... They are still a minority of phones; the radio stack runs on separate RTOS, separate ARM core (though, say, Symbian virtualizes it, not much difference), anyway; and they often have regressions of radio block design (already forgot iPhone antennagate / Brush of Death? Not "grip" - it's enough to bridge in one spot two stupidly exposed antenna sections) that should be resolved before using them as "tools" of network QoS.

Anyway, lets check out some information helpfully provided by... CarrierIQ: http://www.carrieriq.com/overview/IQInsightExperienceManager/Experi...

Features
Capture a vast array of experience data including screen transitions, button presses, service interactions and anomalies
View application and device feature usage, such as camera, music, messaging, browser and TV

Yeah right, "not espionage" / "only network QoS"... ~half of that stuff is much more than that (and the rest can be glanced on the side of network)

Reply Score: 2

Cancel your service
by Phase Angle on Sun 18th Dec 2011 21:51 UTC
Phase Angle
Member since:
2006-06-28

If people arn't happy with AT&T's atititude perhaps an 80% customer dissatisfaction ratting would help allong with mass cancelations.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Cancel your service
by AnythingButVista on Mon 19th Dec 2011 01:03 UTC in reply to "Cancel your service"
AnythingButVista Member since:
2008-08-27

And where are you going? Maybe two cans on a string, because T-Mobile and Sprint also spy on their customers with Carrier IQ and even though Verizon is not using carrier IQ, they recently changed they privacy policy so they can spy on their customers in similar ways.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Cancel your service
by tidux on Mon 19th Dec 2011 03:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Cancel your service"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Sprint ordered its OEMs to remove Carrier IQ from all their Sprint handsets. I'm not sure how this changes phones in the wild - the rootkit might not have an autodestruct system.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Cancel your service
by modmans2ndcoming on Mon 19th Dec 2011 05:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Cancel your service"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

Great... so they will use another product to perform required (for service quality) QoS analysis on their network.

You really think that they can give you any service at all if they did not collect data on your usage and location? You ping a tower to make a call... the tower knows that you are a valid user because of the Codes in your phone (GSM uses SIM cards). that code is registered with your carrier so they know where you are. Similarly, they need to rout your internet traffic for you so they have a record of your internet activity. They send your text messages to the recipient so they know that you sent a text, what is in the text, and who it went to and when it went. This is all information they need to provide service to you....they COULD collect this information on the back end only, (which they do as a side effect of providing those services), but they get better data about the performance of their network by tracking that on the handset. So......WTF is the big deal? don't like having someone else know what you are doing? then stop using a cell phone service, and, for good measure, end your ISP service, turn in your library card, and stop buying items on credit/debit.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Cancel your service
by kokara4a on Mon 19th Dec 2011 08:11 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Cancel your service"
kokara4a Member since:
2005-09-16

they COULD collect this information on the back end only, (which they do as a side effect of providing those services), but they get better data about the performance of their network by tracking that on the handset.


Would you care to clarify how doing it on the handheld yields better data? After all, every bit of data passes the provider's network so all QoS metrics can be extracted from there. I would even assume that you can get more detailed information from the backbone equipment.

So......WTF is the big deal? don't like having someone else know what you are doing? then stop using a cell phone service, and, for good measure, end your ISP service, turn in your library card, and stop buying items on credit/debit.


Collecting information about your actions should only be used to enhance the service you are paying for. It should never be turned into a product that is sold to other companies.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Cancel your service
by Neolander on Mon 19th Dec 2011 12:19 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Cancel your service"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

To play the devil's advocate, handset-based data may allow carriers to know when an antenna has unexpectedly poor reach or is utterly malfunctioning despite reporting a healthy status on automated tests.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Cancel your service
by zima on Sun 25th Dec 2011 23:56 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Cancel your service"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The towers track the connectivity with handsets anyway, otherwise they wouldn't operate anyway near efficiently; lots of spectrum would go to waste.
And if the data is wrong ...a software few layers above would hardly change that.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Cancel your service
by modmans2ndcoming on Tue 20th Dec 2011 02:36 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Cancel your service"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

None of the information collected has been sold. So again... what is your problem?

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Cancel your service
by tidux on Tue 20th Dec 2011 15:30 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Cancel your service"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

My problem is that companies and governments alike are shitting all over my privacy. I'd like to have a cell phone - maybe even a smart phone - without feeling like a lab rat or a citizen of Oceania.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Cancel your service
by zima on Sun 25th Dec 2011 23:50 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Cancel your service"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, I'm sure CarrierIQ announcing partnership with Nielsen ( http://www.carrieriq.com/company/PR.Nielsen_CIQ_News_Release_Oct_19... ) - evidently to find another use for the data they gather - was just some elaborate lie, a harmless (before the November attention they got) joke.

Reply Score: 2

Common Law
by Lorin on Tue 20th Dec 2011 02:58 UTC
Lorin
Member since:
2010-04-06

Regardless what any boilerplate contract may say, the Constitution requires that all laws and legal constructs, such as contracts be written simply to where any person with a standard education can understand it, other wise it is void for vagueness. I have had numerous contracts overturned for that argument.

Additionally, the service reps do not give you time to read any contract and highlight the key points that benefit them in selling it to you, telling you that everything else is just industry standard and not important.

Reply Score: 1