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Carrier IQ and Friends Nailed With Inevitable Lawsuits

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Though the power of damning video and a wave of media coverage, justice was swiftly served against the perpetrators of an unconscionable invasion of privacy.

Carrier IQ -- the developer behind a keylogging rootkit found on over 140 million smartphones -- and Samsung and HTC -- two manufacturers who allowed the software on their phones -- were hit with two class action lawsuits claiming they violated a federal wiretapping statute. Both suits, one filed in Chicago and the other in St. Louis, allege that the defendants unlawfully intercepted "oral, wire, or electronic communications" -- a clear violation of the Federal Wiretap Act -- and hold them accountable for penalties of $100 per day for every violation that takes place.

So what's 100 times 140 million times 365, give or take?

The suits were inevitable once the media caught wind of Trevor Eckhart's revealing video which showed his HTC Evo logging his keystrokes and online activity via Carrier IQ's hidden software. The footage gained a flood of attention from the tech community and began appearing in major news outlets.

Carriers and manufacturers who were unaffiliated with Carrier IQ wasted no time to firmly deny that its software was installed on their devices. Verizon, Windows, Nokia, RIM, and Google were among the first to distance themselves from the nefarious rootkit maker. Despite acknowledging traces of Carrier IQ's software on some of its devices, Apple pledged to "remove it completely in a future software update."

AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, on the other hand, confessed to having the rootkit installed on some of their devices.

Guys, hope your legal teams have their calendars free.

Senator Al Franken sparked the investigation with a formal letter to Carrier IQ. In it, Franken writes:

"[I]t appears the software captures a broad swath of extremely sensitive information from users that would appear to have nothing to do with diagnostics—including who they are calling, the contents of the texts they are receiving, the contents of their searches and the websites they visit.

These actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is potentially a very serious matter."

As the scandal escalated, Carrier IQ scrambled to save face and offered an apology which alleged it never perpetrated any illegal or unethical actions.

Well, we'll just see about that, won't we?

(See also: iPhone, Android Devices Riddled With Carrier IQ's Keylogger and Google Engineer Calls Google+ a Complete Failure)

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