It's the gift that just keeps on giving for the privacy, anti-big brother lobby. Carrier IQ had never been heard of by many just a week ago. Now, lots of us are checking to see if it's on our phones and Apple is the latest to say "nowt to do with us".
OK, so Carrier IQ is a bit of software that keeps tracks on what you do with your phone. Everything down to individual keystrokes with the apparent intention being for it to feed that information back to the vendors, the providers and the manufacturers and show how we use our phones. The idea is that it makes for a better user experience.
But it's come under scrutiny because it turns out that lots of our phones have the software already without us really being informed. We're talking around 140 million handsets worldwide. And it's more an opt-out concept than opt-in. Or, in layman's terms, it's there whether you like it or not. You don't choose to install it.
Traces of the software have been found in iOS devices though Cupertino insists that it stopped supporting the technology in iOS5, giving the impression that any lingering code is just dormant. What's more, Apple promises it will be completely gone in future builds.
Here in Blighty, Vodafone appears to be denying that it uses Carrier IQ with the following response appearing on its forums when asked:
"I've looked into this and the answer seems to be a no. Take it as that for now, and if I find anything else out I'll update the thread, but I doubt I will. There's nothing anywhere to suggest that we ever have."
Interestingly, TechRadar reports that Carrier IQ publicly announced a deal with Vodafone Portugal in 2009. Read into that what you will.
O2 and Orange both deny that they personally use the software and although traces have been found on RIM, Android, iOS and Nokia handsets, the majority of them are all distancing themselves away from what appears to be turning into a toxic brand.
Whilst some OSes are closed shops, rooted Android devices are able to check for and remove Carrier IQ if they so wish. For details, check here.