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Company accused of secretly logging private information of millions of smartphone users

Today, U.S. Senator Al Franken, D-Minnesota, called on Carrier IQ, the developer of an application that has apparently been installed on millions of smartphones and that logs and may transmit sensitive information to explain exactly what the software records, whether it is transmitted to Carrier IQ or any third party, and whether the data is protected against security threats that could risk the safety and privacy of American consumers.

The data reportedly includes users' locations, the websites they visit, and the contents of their text messages and online searches.

"Consumers need to know that their safety and privacy are being protected by the companies they trust with their sensitive information," said Franken. "The revelation that the locations and other sensitive data of millions of Americans are being secretly recorded and possibly transmitted is deeply troubling. This news underscores the need for Congress to act swiftly to protect the location information and private, sensitive information of consumers. But right now, Carrier IQ has a lot of questions to answer."

Earlier this week, a researcher confirmed that software developed by Carrier IQ was logging and potentially transmitting the sensitive information of consumers, including:

--When they turn their phones on;

--When they turn their phones off;

--The phone numbers they dial;

--The contents of text messages they receive;

--The URLs of the websites they visit;

--The contents of their online search queries - even when those searches are encrypted; and

the location of the customer using the smartphone - even when the customer has expressly denied permission for an app that is currently running to access his or her location.

The researcher also found that this software came pre-installed on a wide range of smartphones, was imperceptible to the average user, and was extremely difficult to stop.

In his letter, Franken called on Carrier IQ President and CEO Larry Lenhart to explain exactly what information the software records, whether that information is transmitted to Carrier IQ or to other companies, and whether that information is shared with any third party, among other things. He also asked if Carrier IQ would allow users to stop this tracking.