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  1. Thread Author  Thread Author    #1  
    jbluther's Avatar

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    Angry Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    This is a post from "k0nane" on the XDA Forum. This is the first I've heard of this.

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    Put simply - and bluntly - Carrier IQ is a software package buried deep within Android by Samsung at the behest of Sprint. It has been in active use since the time of the Moment, if not before. The company that develops it, also known as Carrier IQ, bills it as "Mobile Service Intelligence". In their own words,

    [T]he combination of the MSIP and IQ Insight lets you move seamlessly from broad trend data across many users, through comparative groups down to diagnostic data from individual devices. Now, not only can you identify trends, you have the power to drill down to specific instances, giving you the insight your specialists need to make a difference.

    On its own, that description can vary from harmless, to worrying, depending on how you look at it. It's not until one drills deep down into the system and ferrets out every piece of the software that one truly knows what it contains. As some of you might remember, ACS (ROM development team) took the first steps toward disabling the Carrier IQ software with the release of SyndicateROM and Xtreme Kernel 1.0. That, however, didn't even scratch the surface.

    Carrier IQ's native libraries are plainly visible - libiq_client.so and libiq_service.so in /system/lib. During every boot, this service is launched - you can see it in Settings > Applications > Running Services as "IQAgent Service". These native libraries are called by non-native (Android application) libraries located in ext.jar (the client) and framework.jar (the service). Removal of these (rather obviously-named) libraries alone, be it the .so files or the libraries in framework or ext, will, obviously, break boot. So I - k0nane - had to dig deeper. To make a long story short, reference to the IQ Service and IQ Client were littered across the deepest portions of the framework, and some of the most basic functions of the Android system as we know it.

    Carrier IQ as a platform is designed to collect "metrics" at any scale. What I found it to hook into is far beyond the scope of anything a carrier needs - or should want - to be collecting. Carrier IQ sits in the middle of, and "checks" the data of, SMS and MMS messages. It listens for and receives every battery change notifications. It hooks into every web page you view, and every XML file your device reads. It receives every press of the touch screen. It 'sees' what you type on the physical keyboard. It reads every number you press in the dialer. It can track which applications you use, what 'type' they are, how often, and for how long. It hooks into data sent and received.

    I, and the rest of ACS, ask Samsung and Sprint - why do you want this information? Why do you need it? Why is the capability in place?

    The only saving grace - if there is one - to this nasty, ten-legged mutant spider is that its logs are off by default. During the investigation process, I was able to enter its UI. Below are two screenshots of it.


    That being said, the question still must be asked - why is the service even running? Why does Sprint and Samsung feel the need to leave a dormant monster in every one of its most loyal customers' phones?

    Here's the most important part (tl;dr): the Carrier IQ service is a drain on battery life and performance. ACS noticed a significant rise in Smartbench scores and overall system 'snappiness' after Carrier IQ's removal. In addition, with it removed, ACS team lead rjmjr69 saw 30 hours of battery life, with heavy use, on the stock battery.

    -----------------------------------

    What's everyone's response to this? I've tried to stand by Sprint and this phone (and implicitly, Samsung). However, this might be the last straw for me. How can I look forward to the Samsung Nexus S on Sprint now? Does any other carrier have a similar or the same system?
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  2. #2  
    dtm_stretch's Avatar
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    FYI: This feature is not running/enabled, although sprint does have the capability of enabling it. I have been running this rom for a week now and HAVE NOT seen close to 30hrs. At best i have seen a slight improvement over other EB13 roms(15hrs with above average use). All that being said I am glad they did figure out a way to remove it, I personally like to protect my privacy as much as possible.
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    I don't think sprint is necessarily doing anything bad with it now as it is off by default but it does have its hooks in everything in the system. If you wonder why a carrier optimized update comes so much longer after the base is updated its is stuff like this that causes it. It is software that doesn't need to be there and opens the potential for security holes. I have putany Tom on other than a stock eb13 with ext4 and cwm3 and genocide. This seems like a good rom to start with. I dont know of its a big deal or not a big deal bit philosophically I like that it is gone.
  4. Thread Author  Thread Author    #4  
    jbluther's Avatar

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    In looking around a bit more the consensus seems to be something like: "Meh. What else to we expect from these guys (Sprint, Samsung) anymore?"

    Thanks for the feedback, dtm_stretch. I enjoyed TrulyEpic Rebirth and I'm trying to decide on my EB13 rom.
  5. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtm_stretch View Post
    FYI: This feature is not running/enabled
    Are you sure? He stated directly (and the screenshots show pretty clearly) that it is indeed running, it's just not keeping a log.

    I switched from midnight ROM to Syndicate and am very happy with the experience. No 30 hours here either, but noticeable difference coming from midnight in terms of speed, which itself was very tweaked & speedy over stock EB13.
  6. #6  
    jrz5024's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by dtm_stretch View Post
    FYI: This feature is not running/enabled
    This is not correct. CIQ is always running, that's what the IQ Agent Service is.

    @OP: Please don't post multi page quotes with GIANT PICTURES when we can easily go and read it for ourselves.
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    dtm_stretch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianFX View Post
    Are you sure? He stated directly (and the screenshots show pretty clearly) that it is indeed running, it's just not keeping a log.

    I switched from midnight ROM to Syndicate and am very happy with the experience. No 30 hours here either, but noticeable difference coming from midnight in terms of speed, which itself was very tweaked & speedy over stock EB13.

    You are correct it is running but only because it is so embedded it all of the coding; it just isn't logging or sending info to sprint.

    ** I was just trying to prevent users from assuming that sprint is actively collecting every key stroke and press of the touch screen. The article is definitely written to generate fear of big brother tracking your info. BUT the important part of all of this is your personal information should be in YOUR control and NOT sprints and this rom assists in that.
  8. #8  

    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    Carrier IQ's Agent works based on data collection profiles that are narrow- or broad-cast from the carrier to the cell-phone fleet.

    The Agent may be relatively dormant until it receives a profile which details the data to be collected along with a sophisticated array of timing or behavior based triggers for data collection and schedule of data package uploads back to the carrier.

    Is it Big Brother in your back pocket, NO.
    Can it enable Big Brother from within your back pocket, Yes.

    In the day this thing was designed, the personal data content of a phone was mp3 playlists, and a contact list. By comparison, a smartphone now holds as many details of your life as may a desktop computer.

    This tool deserves more publicity, oversight, and limitability.
    It should be opt-in on the user's part, rather than an uncontrolled daemon.
    That might diminish its usefulness to the Carriers that ordain its integration into their cell-phone fleet, but it would give each of us a CHOICE in the matter.

    If you really want to defeat it, switch to a carrier that doesn't require it. They don't all do that......yet

    On the good side, it is an awesome tool for measuring the Quality of Software, Hardware, and Radio Infrastructure.

    An Awsome Sword that cuts both ways.

    So are you worried now ?
  9. #9  

    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    Not really... Big brother, and I mean not just Sprint or any carrier wants to really know what we are doing they can trace whatever they want... We have seen it proven time and time again in big court cases, etc... They pull up txts and stuff from nowhere so it shows whatever goes out over the air waves is stored somewhere in a main frame just waiting to be looked at....
    Paul
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  10. #10  

    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul627g View Post
    Not really... Big brother, and I mean not just Sprint or any carrier wants to really know what we are doing they can trace whatever they want... We have seen it proven time and time again in big court cases, etc... They pull up txts and stuff from nowhere so it shows whatever goes out over the air waves is stored somewhere in a main frame just waiting to be looked at....
    If you put it on the internet (or any other network you don't wholly own), you need to know that you might as well be buying air time on tv and putting up posters. Someone will have a copy of it somewhere for all time.

    If you don't want anyone to know about it, don't put it on a network, anywhere, ever. Even with out this they can get most of that data anyway, be nice not to have it in there using ram, cpu and battery though.
  11. #11  

    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    Well.. I'm not sure about them logging everything I'm doing.. sure it's not activated by DEFAULT. I'm not one of those people who cares about people watching what I'm doing, I don't really do much to be worried about spies anyway...

    But.. the performance increase and battery life increase is pretty undeniable.
  12. #12  
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    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    Quote Originally Posted by Funky Cricket View Post
    If you put it on the internet (or any other network you don't wholly own), you need to know that you might as well be buying air time on tv and putting up posters. Someone will have a copy of it somewhere for all time.

    If you don't want anyone to know about it, don't put it on a network, anywhere, ever. Even with out this they can get most of that data anyway, be nice not to have it in there using ram, cpu and battery though.
    The feature is disabled so it's not running on the phone.. So, it's not using ram, cpu, or battery.
  13. #13  
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    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    I jate this app and the idea of this app what ever happened to privacy...
  14. #14  

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolqf View Post
    The feature is disabled so it's not running on the phone.. So, it's not using ram, cpu, or battery.
    Then why the drastic improvement in battery life when running a rom with this removed?
  15. #15  

    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    Ok, I am only 30 minutes into reading up on this topic, via Wired, xda-developers, and brief skim of Trevor Eckhart's article.

    Here's my unsettling question. I have a DROID2 on Verizon running Gingerbread. Is there a simple way for me to check if CIQ is on my phone? Or does the the APK provided in the StockClients folder of the IQAgent download the only way to determine if CIQ is on?

  16. #16  

    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    It makes a huge differnece to me. Unfortunately, because of my job, I am bound not to disclose certain infornation that I work with to anyone. I don't have a choice in this as we are regulated by Federal Law. That makes my phone useless for work purposes.

    Now that I am aware that someone might be able to view what I am viewing, I can no longer legally use my phone to do anything work related which is a major reason that i own a smart phone.

    Thanks, f'tards. Now i have to go off and figure out what to do about this....
  17. #17  
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    Default Re: Carrier IQ - Is it real? Does anyone care?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guppy63 View Post
    Ok, I am only 30 minutes into reading up on this topic, via Wired, xda-developers, and brief skim of Trevor Eckhart's article.

    Here's my unsettling question. I have a DROID2 on Verizon running Gingerbread. Is there a simple way for me to check if CIQ is on my phone? Or does the the APK provided in the StockClients folder of the IQAgent download the only way to determine if CIQ is on?


    Root and run the tool from Trevor. I rooted simply to run that tool. I have a Droid 2 Global.
    The good news is that no VZW phone so far has been found to have this. AND VZW has claimed that they do not use it.

    Please consider updating this thread: http://forums.androidcentral.com/and...-status-2.html if you do run the tools and let everyone know the results.

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