Friday, April 4, 2014

Carrier IQ: Privacy Violations(2011)

Carrier IQ company logo

Carrier IQ is most likely unknown to the public, yet they have an influence on roughly 60 percent of the people in the United States of America. Carrier IQ is known to the business world as "Carrier IQ, Inc. provides mobile service intelligence solutions. It offers IQ Insight Device Analyzer that accelerates the mobile service and mobile device pre-launch activities at wireless carriers and mobile device vendors; and IQ Insight Datacard Analyzer, which gives users the information to troubleshoot, analyze, and optimize mobile data card population." (BloomsBurg Weekly). In other words, they focus on installation of software that improves devices of many sorts. Specifically in this case, mobile devices are the target in which leads the company to decline. In December of 2011, privacy protection was questioned by many users, when people started believing that the companies software was keeping track of the key strokes of the customers. This violation of the users privacy put Carrier IQ in a problematic situation where the company was inevitably going to be sued by various users. Though Carrier IQ says many of these allegations are of a misunderstanding, and their programming was not accessing any keystroke logging of any sorts, the lawsuits still went on. These lawsuits also effected many of the mobile phone providers that were currently using Carrier IQ software. Primarily the company was faced with many lawsuits that had all effected the company's public image negatively.

Being a software enabling company that focused on mobile device the primary stakeholders in this case would be any form of wireless provider that used Carrier IQ in there devices.These companies such as, Apple, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, HTC, Samsung and Motorola are all in the spotlight for using this third-party software. Among these stakeholders Larry Lenhart, newly appointed CEO of Carrier IQ had to make big time decisions when the company was faced with these charges. Ranging also to the people effected, specifically Trevor Eckhart who was the one that discovered the problem and publicized it through YouTube. Defending these allegations was Lenhart and the Carrier IQ team, which said that the company in no way was programming their software with malicious intent, "even some security analysts have said it is incorrect to describe the company's software as a keylogger and a rootkit."(Computer World) 
as Eckhart had described.  
The CEO of Carrier IQ, Larry Lenhart (left) had incredible trouble with this incident. Losing the majority of its customers due to the controversy. Lenhart had to act swiftly, in his attempt to enhance the public image and step toward a new light on the company he hired a new Chief Privacy Officer and General Counsel, Ms. Magnolia Mansourkia Mobley. In his efforts to revive the company's reputation, Mobley came into her new position with a superior focus on privacy protection as a company and throughout the work space. Overall, the company is working to provide themselves with the image of having a new "privacy culture".
Verizon is one of the only mobile providers that was not affected by this controversy, considering they were not a partner with Carrier IQ, yet other partners were faced with great ridicule due to the software. Apple specifically was pointed out by the media and was pushed to drop Carrier IQ as third party software. These allegations led lots of people to leave those mobile providers, which affects their sales as a company and Carrier IQ as a provider. The resultant plummeted in the reputation of Carrier IQ led them to lose many of their partners. The lawsuit in 2011 led these companies to be sued along with Carrier IQ.
Trevor Eckhart was the key contributor to the revealing of this controversial topic. As a twenty five year old security analysis, he investigated this Carrier IQ software on his HTC mobile device. He recorded the software logging in his keystrokes and having access to all of the location services, with the user unable to stop the software from working on the handset. This was the primary lead to the publication of this controversy of Carrier IQ violating privacy laws in the United States.

Following the economic theory of individualism where the formula stands as, "Individualism = Egoism(Selfishness) + Rights-Based Constraints"(Salazar). This theory resides from people who believe the purpose of a business is to be prosperous. "The only goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders."(Salazar). Before these allegations took place against Carrier IQ, the general public knew very little about this company and the effect it had on their various devices. The company as a whole was partnering with many companies because of its prominent ability to make their devices perform excellently and efficiently. After these lawsuits against Carrier IQ the integrity of their values was questioned by the public and their partners. Most people discovering that their phones were being tracked along with what they were typing led them to be extremely displeased. Carrier IQ had no other option then to go through the lawsuits and be disbanded from most partners. As a company they have rerouted themselves to be focused on privacy for the public and protection from any other data transmitting.

Carrier IQ propaganda image

Regarding happiness and its value is where Utilitarianism creeps in the business door. Defined as the maximizing of happiness and the reduction of all complications. Utilitarianism can be applied to the aspects of Carrier IQ because the company wanted nothing but to apply their software to make the best possible devices more efficient and ethically sound. Each stakeholder during this process was accessed on multiple levels. The main companies such as, Apple and HTC were challenged greatly with what they knew were in their phones and what exactly they were planning to do with the software. "The carriers have insisted that the software is being used only for network diagnostics purposes while the handset makers have claimed that they integrated Carrier IQ in their devices only because the carriers specifically asked them to."(Computer World). This integration is what leads to Carrier IQ's integrity to be put into examination and more importantly Lenhart as a CEO. In the long term for Carrier IQ and the mobile device developers separation from each other would be the best option so both can pursue other partners to be in development with.

Created by the ideas of Immanuel Kant and based of four basic principles Kantianism is a significant business ethics theory. Principles being "Act rationally – don’t act inconsistently in your own actions or consider yourself exempt from rules. Allow and help people to make rational decisions Respect people, their autonomy, and individual needs and differences. Be motivated by Good Will, seeking to do what is right because it is right."(Salazar). Through these principles came three formulas, the most prominent being the formula of humanity, which states "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means"(Salazar). Carrier IQ, based off of the principles Kant provides, do not follow the theory of Kantianism. Kant principles specify on respect of the people, which violating the privacy rights of those people is not respecting them whatsoever. Though Lenhart focuses on the fact that the program does not display the key logging in normal text and has other security analyzers backing him. The allegations show he is in direct violation of the Kant principles. The company can conform to these principles by altering their own software to make them no longer become invasive onto their privacy and no longer disrespect the consumer. 

Virtue Theory
Verizon Wireless, one of the only mobile
providers NOT affected by this controversy
The virtue theory being one of the most recent business theories to break into effect. Based off of four main virtues of business, "Courage, Honesty, Temperance/Self Control, Justice/Fairness"(Salazar). Larry Lenhart was the primary decision maker during this time. Courage as a virtue was evident through Lenhart's decision making. He backed his company perfectly without abiding to the pressures of the challenging sides. Honesty was also part of his decision making skills because he saw the problem and interpreted it as a mistake but something that will be fixed in great haste. Self control was of great prominence as he remained laid-back and took control of the greatest action plan possible to get his company back on track. Justice or fairness is most likely the one virtue that was not used because of the inability to use this characteristic in any form. Overall as a decision maker, Lenhart made use of those characteristics and handled the situation very professionally.

Throughout the process Carrier IQ was dealing with immense pressure and ethically they conformed to some of the main ideas of business ethics but not all. Overall, the invasion of personal privacy is an incredibly unethical process and puts some serious research to fix as a company. Everyone being effected by Carrier IQ's actions has had their court case settled and the company is working to become the company that was once so well trusted.


"8 Companies Hit with Lawsuit over Carrier IQ Software." Computerworld. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.

Verge, Dieter Bohn | The. "Carrier IQ Taking Steps to Rebuild Its Reputation." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 08 May 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.

Davis, Wendy. "Carrier IQ Loses Preliminary Round In Privacy Lawsuit." MediaPost Publications 05/22/2012. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.

"Company Overview of Carrier IQ, Inc." N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.

Salazar, Heather. Business Ethics Lectures. WNEU. Spring 2014.

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