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How HTC watches your every move with CIQ

XDA has once again brought to light information that a company would rather keep hidden. The most recent update to your phone includes software that lets HTC watch your every move. Sensation 4G and EVO 3D seem to be affected and now HTC has responded. Is HTC legally liable for following the coordinates of your every screen touch, the current position of your phone and more?

CIQ – Carrier Intelligence Quotient

CIQ is installed at the behest of carriers and now phone manufactures with HTC jumping on the bandwagon. The latest update to this tool only furthers what it could already do. It can be found lurking in the Ramdisk of Android phones as far back as the Samsung Moment, and was a partner project with Sprint.

The primary purpose of CIQ is to record nearly everything about your phone and how the user interacts with it in every way.

CIQ accesses:

  • Screen presses and coordinates of where
  • Application usage and how much time is spent in each app
  • GPS location periodically and current when requested
  • Accelerometer usage, including current orientation of handset along with use of the —
  • Magnetometer (digital compass).
  • Both front facing and rear facing cameras with latest update.

We have an expert looking further into what controls CIQ can access, but according to the people who removed the tool from ROMs, what the tool can access is apparently quite deep.

While the feature can be removed through the use of 3rd party ROMs, the tracking feature can’t be completely turned off. It remains draining the battery, recording GPS locations, and making the phone very hot, sometimes forcing a reboot. These are just some of the strange behaviors reported online and experienced first hand since the latest 2.3.4 update for owners of the EVO 3D on Sprint and Sensation 4G on T-Mobile, making this most likely implemented beside Sense in the most recent update to the phones.

After directly questioned about CIQ (Carrier IQ), the tool collecting the information in the background and in secret, HTC had this to say to XDA:

XDA:

Officials from HTC have replied to the concern regarding data and privacy security and has assured us that all the information that they obtain is nothing more than information for their “Tell HTC Customer Service App” and that all the data being sent is securely encrypted.

HTC:

“We’ve seen some questions about Sensation and Evo 3D and want to provide more information. HTC, like most manufacturers, has an opt-in error reporting function built in to our devices. If your phone experiences an error, you have the option of “Telling HTC” so we can make improvements to our phones. Details about this are in our privacy policy on each device and in order for data to be collected, you have to opt-in. If you do opt-in, we protect your privacy by de-identifing and encrypting the data.

HTC is committed to protecting your privacy and that means a commitment to clear opt-in/opt-out as the standard for collecting any information we need to serve you better.”

Phandroid commenter k0nane claimed (among several other reports from XDA members and elsewhere online) that Sprint has been using this software for some time on all their Android devices. He also claims to have originally removed CIQ from the Samsung Epic 4G. He claims it “hooks into a heck of a lot more than Sprint would ever want to admit” after taking a look at CIQ’s decompiled code. His full report can be found on XDA.

1 = ("com.htc.feedback", "feedback_usageOpt") 2 = ("com.android.browser", "user_action") 3 = ("com.android.htccontacts", "contact_type") 4 = ("com.android.htccontacts", "group_info") 5 = ("com.android.mms", "message_send") 6 = ("com.android.mms", "message_receive") 7 = ("com.android.mms", "message_count") 8 = ("com.android.phone", "user_action") 9 = ("com.android.phone", "settings_quietRing") 10 = ("com.android.phone", "settings_pocketMode") 11 = ("com.android.phone", "settings_flipForSpeaker") 12 = ("com.android.phone", "edit_b4_call") 13 = ("com.futuredial", "transfer_data") 14 = ("com.htc.album", "storage") 15 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "press_duration") 16 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "UDB_words") 17 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "special_correction") 18 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "WCL_cnt") 19 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "duration_SIP") 20 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "lang_key") 21 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "voice_key") 22 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "set_CIME") 23 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "duration_SIP") 24 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "user_action") 25 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "waiting_time") 26 = ("com.htc.android.htcime", "fuzzy_pinYin") 27 = ("com.htc.android.htcsetupwizard", "is_sysTimeChanged") 28 = ("com.htc.android.htcsetupwizard", "feedback_usageOpt") 29 = ("com.htc.android.mail", "mail_count") 30 = ("com.htc.android.mail", "update_schedule") 31 = ("com.htc.android.mail", "default_mailsize") 32 = ("com.htc.android.mail", "widget_clickcount") 33 = ("com.htc.android.mail", "EAS_success") 34 = ("com.htc.launcher", "layout") 35 = ("com.htc.launcher", "scene") 36 = ("com.htc.launcher", "user_action") 37 = ("com.htc.launcher", "app_launch") 38 = ("com.htc.launcher", "leap_view") 39 = ("com.htc.launcher", "skin_picker") 40 = ("com.htc.music", "storage") 41 = ("device_status", "battery") 42 = ("device_status", "battery_low") 43 = ("device_status", "bluetooth") 44 = ("download_manager", "download") 45 = ("system_server", "application_launch") 46 = ("system_server", "activity_launch_history") 47 = ("system_server", "MRU_click") 48 = ("system_server", "activity_tabCount") 49 = ("system_server", "tab_index") 50 = ("system_server", "app_uninstalled") 51 = ("system_server", "launcher_downloaded")

For those of you who do use rooted devices, there are instructions for removal over on this XDA Thread should you feel like not being completely spied on by HTC.

Source: XDA

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