News of the controversial Carrier IQ used by smartphone makers to monitor users' data has fired up iPhone and Android handset owners alike.
The software, which has great potential for privacy violation, is installed on most smartphones in the US. It collects a range of information including: sent and received text messages and emails, data usage, keystrokes, information about placed and received calls, and even when the phone is turned on and off.
Carriers and smartphone makers have explained that the information is used to improve the quality of their networks and services, but that justification seems a bit vague. At the moment there is a lot of confusion about how this data is used, where it is sent and how it is processed.
First it was revealed that owners of Android smartphones from Samsung and HTC were affected. After the news went public, Apple also came out to reassure users that "most of our products" don't have Carrier IQ since the update to iOS 5.
However, Apple revealed to Ars Technica that the iPhone 4 is the device that still has the controversial software, though the company points out that it isn't activated by default.
"With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so," Apple explained in a statement (via TechCrunch).
Millions of iPhone 4 users, who are worried they might be being spied upon, should go to Settings > General > About, and then scroll to Diagnostics & Usage to check if they're sending data to Apple - the option should be 'off'.