"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death."- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 2
A little-known California software company can monitor every keystroke consumers make on many popular smartphones.
The company, Carrier IQ Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., found itself in the middle of a national privacy furor this week after an amateur security researcher posted a video purporting to show its software logging every key press, as well as the content of text messages and search engine queries.
"A company no one's ever heard of having the capacity to look at everything you do on your mobile device is a reason to be nervous," said Justin Brookman, the director for consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
"This is highlighting that when people buy a smartphone, it's not just one company they're dealing with that has access to their data, but possibly dozens," Brookman said.
According to a promotional document on Carrier IQ's website, the company's software can "capture a vast array of experience data including screen transitions, button presses" and "device feature usage, such as camera, music, messaging, browser and TV."
Carrier IQ is able to access "your personal information," "your messages" and "your location," as well as "intercept outgoing calls" and "read contact data." There is no clear way for users to stop the application or opt out of the data collection.
For more on this story