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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Smart Phones Spy on You, Multiple Classes Claim

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Twelve class actions across the country claim that Carrier IQ has been "spying on the activities" of smart phone users with a device that tracks key strokes and sends the information to carriers such as Sprint and AT&T.

Five class actions were filed in San Jose and Bay Area federal courts, two in Boston, and one each in Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, Chicago, and Beaumont, Texas.

Carrier IQ makes a device called IQRD, which one lead plaintiff Rowena Silvera describes as a rootkit that allows privileged access to a computer while hiding its presence, and subverting standard operating system functions or other applications.

Carrier markets the device to cellphone carriers by claiming it "can 'measure performance and user experience with no visible impact to your customers,'" but the rootkit actually decreases battery life and overall performance while increasing data use, Silvera says.

The device, which customers cannot opt out of having installed on their smart phones, records all keystrokes, including keys pressed, apps opened, messages received, and media and location statistics, as well as information on battery life on a supposedly secure session, according to the complaint.

The information is transmitted to Carrier IQ's portal, and from there is disclosed to Sprint and AT&T, the class claims.

Defendants AT&T and Sprint are carriers for smart phones made by defendants Samsung and HTC, and the plaintiff class includes "people who communicated with said smart phones and whose electronic communications were intercepted by defendants Carrier IQ ... called IQRD, without the individual's authorization."

Silvera is represented by Steven Skikos with Skikos, Crawford, Skikos & Joseph.

She seeks class damages for violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

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