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Apple Distances Itself From Carrier IQ Privacy Fiasco

Apple says it used Carrier IQ's controversial, data-gathering software, but denies any personal data was sent to carriers from the iPhone and iPad.

Carrier IQ's application was used to make available to carriers "diagnostic data" that was in line with Apple's policy of not including any personal information, the company said. The data was encrypted, sent anonymously and not shared with any companies other than the carriers. In addition, device users have to agree in advance to share such data.

"We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so," the company said in a statement. Remnants of the deactivated Carrier IQ app are in iOS 5. Apples plans to clean those out with the next update.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T sold the iPhone and tablet before iOS 5's release in October, when Sprint was added to the mix. Verizon started selling the iPhone in January with iOS 4 installed, while AT&T has carried the iPhone and the iPad since their first releases.

Verizon has said it is not a Carrier IQ customer, while AT&T has acknowledged it is, saying that data gathered from mobile phones follow the company's privacy policy, which customers agree to. Having customers agree to privacy policies is standard for carriers. Few customers actually read them.

In issuing a statement on Carrier IQ, Apple is trying to distance itself from the controversy that has attracted the attention of Congress. U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. and chairman of the Subcommittee on Privacy Technology and the Law, has sent Mountain View, Calif.-based Carrier IQ a letter demanding it answer nearly two dozen questions about its data-gathering practices.

The privacy fray started when Trevor Eckhart, a Connecticut systems administrator, posted a report online and a YouTube video detailing the information he claimed Carrier IQ's software gathered from his HTC EVO mobile phone. Eckhart claimed the software logged keystrokes, location, text from received messages and a wide variety of other information. The application is typically hidden from phone users

Carrier IQ has denied it collects such data, saying that it only collects information to help carriers monitor service quality. Eckhart claims to have found the application in devices from Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Research In Motion. Carrier IQ says on its web site that its software is in more than 141 million mobile phones.

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