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Pleading incompetence…

… and if you believe this one, I have some swampland to sell to you! :-)

Yesterday, Carrier IQ said that it was SHOCKED to learn that its software was logging every keystroke pressed, Web site visited, and text message sent, and MORE, from over 150 million mobile phone users! 😉 Sure. Right.

“We’re as surprised as anybody to see all that information flowing,” Andrew Coward, Carrier IQ’s director of marketing, told CNNMoney in an interview. “It raises a lot of questions for the industry — and not [only] for Carrier IQ.”

Then again, MAYBE Carrier IQ is just CLAIMING incompetence when, in fact, a security researcher has caught the company, and likely phone manufacturers (and carriers) as well, “with their pants down.” (And let’s not forget the Carrier IQ “cease and desist” letter sent to Travis Eckhart to hush up the incident. The intervention of the Electronic Frontier Foundation forced a change in tactics!) After all, it is better to be guilty of a mistake than to be guilty of deliberately spying on every keystroke of 150 million people worldwide! :-)

But which is more reasonable to assume:

  1. that somehow, Carrier IQ software buried deeply in the code managed to, coincidentally, :-) WORK with the operating SYSTEMS (more than one or two :-) ) to spy on cell phone users? OR
  2. that manufacturers and carriers and Carrier IQ collaborated to produce systems that spy on cell phone users for governments and others that have previously expressed the INTENT to do just THAT? :-)

After all, the logging capability is very well “baked in” and very well hidden. :-)

Hanlon’s Razor states that one should “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

IMHO (“In My Humble Opinion”), STUPIDITY doesn’t quite CUT IT this time, and we should not be so quick to forgive Carrier IQ, the manufacturers, or the carriers. It seems as though Travis Eckhart simply caught someone doing what governments have expressed the INTENT (and sometimes ATTEMPTED) to DO – leaving Carrier IQ scrambling to make the whole incident “go away” and be replaced by some other news story.

Americans have very short memories. Perhaps the same is true of people worldwide.

And the truly incompetent high-tech companies never admit it… especially those that blend evil with incompetence.

(Note added December 04, 2011: CNET has this article with answers from Carrier IQ executives. You can evaluate the replies.)

-Bill at

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