AndroidFeaturesGood and EVO

Carrier IQ, user privacy, and your HTC EVO

Android_trojan True or false: Your HTC EVO records a log of every keystroke, reads every number you press in the dialer, and can track which applications you use.

Answer: True.

But why? Why does it do this and why don't most people know about it?

Other sites have dealt with this issue but at the suggestion of G&E reader Zeph, we thought this would be good to share here as well.

The culprit is Carrier IQ (CIQ), which XDA's k0nane explains as a "software package buried deep within Android . . . at the behest of Sprint." The partnership began with the Samsung line of Android phones, it is now also found in most HTC devices marketed by Sprint, including both the EVO 4G and EVO 3D. "CIQ listens for and receives every battery change notifications. It hooks into every web page you view, and every XML file your device reads. It receives every press of the touch screen. It 'sees' what you type on the physical keyboard. It reads every number you press in the dialer. It can track which applications you use, what 'type' they are, how often, and for how long. It hooks into data sent and received."

Rooted users have largely taken to flashing ROMs that remove CIQ or freezing it using something like Titanium Backup. Anyone not rooted is, for better or worse, using a device with this software running in the background.

The million dollar question is why did Sprint feel the need to set this dormant trojan horse-like monster in motion?

Companies are using every bit of leverage they can to maximize profits and direct their efforts in the most cost-effective ways possible. That said, some take issue with the fact that our phones are tracking our behaviors in ways that we never knowingly consented to (although there has to be some caveat included in our user agreements somewhere).

Should you panic?

That really depends on who you ask.

Many see CIQ as a harmless metric tracker that can allow Sprint and the manufacturer to drill down and diagnose handset issues for customers while operating with a more profitable business model. Others see it as a matter of time before someone decides to turn the logs on and collect the data that the software has been harvesting since you began using your EVO. It certainly doesn't help that Sprint has been less than forthcoming over the last few years about their intentions, revealing few specifics.

So you can add this to your pro/con list as you debate the merits of rooting, as only a rooted user can remove or freeze the application, thus ending any chance of data collection and some say increasing your battery life. Many custom ROMs/kernels also have CIQ removed by default.

What do you think? Have you seen any (dramatic) performance improvement after CIQ removal? Do you think this is something to stay up in arms about or is it a benign business move on the part of Sprint? Hit the comment section below.

Thanks, Zeph!

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David Carleno

David is a former contributing editor at Good and EVO, which was merged into Pocketables in 2012.

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