HTC phone update reportedly drops Carrier IQ software

Smartphone maker acting in response to Sprint's order

Carrier IQ's performance monitoring software has been deleted from the latest firmware update for the HTC EVO 3D smartphone, at the behest of Sprint, according to a post at AndroidCentral. Many more could follow.

RELATED: What's really going on with Carrier IQ on your phone

An earlier Sprint post revealed that the pending firmware version, due for Jan. 12 release, would be a security update. AndroidCentral reported this week that it would also boost battery life and offer an updated Peep client to align with Twitter.

After the version was released, programmers and hackers began delving into it. "Folks who have checked around in the manage applications tab have noticed that 'HTC IQAgent' and 'IQRD,' both of which were Carrier IQ, are no longer present on the device after the update," according to AndroidCentral

Sprint, one of several carriers that use the Carrier IQ software, confirmed in December that it had "disabled use of the tool so that diagnostic information data is no longer being collected," according to a story at MobileBurn, quoting from a Sprint email statement.

The HTC EVO 3D update may indicate that Sprint has ordered its handset partners to remove the software entirely. Email requests to Carrier IQ and Sprint for comment have not yet received replies.

Carrier IQ exploded into public awareness in November, in the wake of an online analysis and YouTube video by Trevor Eckhart, a Connecticut-based systems analyst and amateur security researcher. Eckhart claimed that the output of the Android LogCat utility showed that Carrier IQ was a "rootkit" that was collecting a wide range of personal information and, presumably, sending it to Sprint. A firestorm of accusation followed, with Carrier IQ, and its carrier customers, being accused of keylogging, spying and tracking.

But more detailed analysis by at least two other professional security researchers found that Eckhart was confusing Carrier IQ's actions with those of debug statements mistakenly left in the Android code by HTC's own programmers. In fact, Carrier IQ was collecting performance related data for optimizing the end users' experience, no more and no less.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

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