03
Dec
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Yesterday, we caught early wind of two class action lawsuits filed against CarrierIQ, HTC, and Samsung in Chicago and St. Louis. You can now add a whole new class action suit to the pile, except this time it also names AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Motorola, and Apple in addition to the aforementioned three companies.

Led by law firms from Delaware and New Jersey - Sianni & Straite LLP, Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP, and Keefe Bartels L.L.C. - the lawsuit "asserts that three cell phone providers (T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T) and four manufacturers of cell phones (HTC, Motorola, Apple and Samsung) violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act." CarrierIQ is not named in that quote, but it is listed in the press release's title, so don't worry - the whole gang is included.

The three firms are not thrilled with "the unprecedented breach of the digital privacy rights of 150 million cell phone users" and think that "this latest revelation of corporate America's brazen disregard for the digital privacy rights of its customers is yet another example of the escalating erosion of liberty in this country. Anyone who cares at all about their personal privacy, or the broader constitutional right to privacy, ought to care and care a great deal about this case."

Oh, we do care, although I'm not too thrilled with the lack of the firms' own research and this snide remark by Barry Eichen of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP: "today's comment from Larry Lenhart, CEO of Carrier IQ, that his software is somehow good for consumers starkly demonstrates what is at stake." We get what you're saying, Barry, but there's no need to be so cocky at this stage - it may come back and bite you in the rear.

I feel the lawsuits are quite a bit premature, but that's the way the system works - everyone wants a piece of the pie, and the earlier they get into the game, the better for them. After all, remember - the primary beneficiaries who stand to profit in case of winning are the law firms themselves. Nevertheless, it's certainly going to be interesting to see how successful these lawsuits can get and whether they can convince the courts that CarrierIQ installations on millions of devices were unlawful in some way.

Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ Sued in Delaware Federal Court in Cell Phone Tracking Software Scandal

WILMINGTON, Del., Dec. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The law firms of Sianni & Straite LLP of Wilmington, DE, Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP of Edison, NJ, and Keefe Bartels L.L.C. of Red Bank, NJ, have today filed a class action complaint in Federal Court in Wilmington, Delaware related to the unprecedented breach of the digital privacy rights of 150 million cell phone users.  The complaint asserts that three cell phone providers (T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T) and four manufacturers of cell phones (HTC, Motorola, Apple and Samsung) violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The carriers and manufacturers were caught last month willfully violating customers' privacy rights in direct violation of federal law.  A technology blogger in Connecticut discovered that software designed and sold by California-based Carrier IQ, Inc. was secretly tracking personal and sensitive information of the cell phone users without the consent or knowledge of the users.  On Nov. 30, 2011, the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary said in a letter to Carrier IQ that "these actions may violate federal privacy laws."  It added, "this is potentially a very serious matter." 

David Straite, one of the attorneys leading the action, noted "this latest revelation of corporate America's brazen disregard for the digital privacy rights of its customers is yet another example of the escalating erosion of liberty in this country.  We are hopeful that the courts will allow ordinary customers the opportunity to remedy this outrageous breach."  Steve Grygiel, co-counsel for the proposed class, agreed: "anyone who cares at all about their personal privacy, or the broader constitutional right to privacy, ought to care and care a great deal about this case."  Barry Eichen added, "today's comment from Larry Lenhart, CEO of Carrier IQ, that his software is somehow good for consumers starkly demonstrates what is at stake."

A copy of the Class Action Complaint in Pacilli v. Carrier IQ, Inc. can be viewed on the Firms' websites at www.siannistraite.com, www.keefebartels.com, and www.njadvocates.com.

Plaintiffs are represented by Sianni & Straite LLP, a Delaware-based litigation firm with a branch office in New York, Keefe Bartels LLC, a New Jersey-based plaintiffs' rights trial law firm, and Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP, a leading plaintiffs firm with three offices in New Jersey.

Image via TechCrunch

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Adam

    That's going to be a lot of money coming out of those companies... so what do us consumers get? Because if it's one of those class action suits where we get a coupon for 50 cents off a loaf of bread I'm going to curb my enthusiasm.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/12/03/att-sprint-t-mobile-motorola-and-apple-also-sued-alongside-htc-samsung-and-carrieriq-in-a-new-class-action-lawsuit/ Rick

    I agree with ya Adam. Us consumers should get something. I feel so violated. Maybe we should get free service for times we have phone service contract. Plus couple grand. ;-)

  • http://www.thepixelpuse.com aj

    I just want the whole thing to stop, so whatever it takes to get rid of carrier iq and scares the carriers enough to never do it again works for me. I don't care about receiving cash from a class action suit or anything.

    • Noreen

      I agree with Aj. But I really do question as to whether or not the data harvesting will cease. Alot of information is being recorded for some reason or perhaps reasons. Could it be for helpful reasons as Carrier IQ claims, or for marketing, or maybe even, I hate to say this, but how about the Government & the Patriot Act? (Just a thought.)
      The policies and rules to this data harvesting should be discussed, reviewed, revised, disclosed to all, and give people some kind of option.

  • me

    So where is Verizon and blackberry? Looks like they tried to go after everyone with this but shouldn't it be the developer we go after? Or is this suit just so greedy consumers who always want something free can try and get it?

    • Deltaechoe

      Verizon doesn't use carrier iq

      • jonathan3579

        Then how do they diagnose their network issues and whatnot? I'm gonna call foul-play with their word usage because they might not use CIQ but it's foolish to believe they don't use something *like* CIQ.

  • SlipperySlope

    The problem with US consumers is that when issues like this come up, it's instantly about getting money from the accused.

    The real issue here is the violation of privacy committed against some 114 MILLION Americans. That's nearly 1/3 of the country! I bet there are a lot of elected officials who have phones that have this Carrier IQ software on it, not to mention law enforcement, military, government funded weapons labs, bank officials, or even you yourself have been violated by this app.

    Think of all the conversations you've had on the phone or sensitive information shared via text or email on your phone.. Ever purchased something via the web on your phone? Carrier IQ has your bank/paypal/credit card number, home address, email, etc. at their disposal. Can you imagine the wealth of personal information this company could potentially be responsible for should it get hacked? Look at Sony, and all they had were gamers names, emails credit card numbers, maybe phone numbers. The magnitude of this is far bigger than people realize, just on the information theft side, not to mention various legal breaches.

    If Carrier IQ, cell phone carriers and manufacturers are proved to have been knowingly harvesting data on its customers, they need to lose far more than money. Government regulation, complete transparency, future software is required to be made open-source and available online for peer review, as well as the public humiliation/exile/blacklisting of the individuals who knowingly commissioned, developed, and implemented/required its use to name a few things.

    Something akin to what the Romans did when they utterly destroyed their enemies, eg, salting their land, poisoning their wells, slaughtering their people. Whatever it takes to get the point across that when people find out what you are doing, (which they will) they won't be in any position ever to do it again.

  • john

    Glad I removed the software that came with my HTC and replaced it with a open source one no spying and phone much faster and more functional hope for android unlucky rim and Nokia

  • Freak4Dell

    Consumers should not be looking at this as a way to get money or other compensation from the defendants. Everyone knows that only lawyers get significant monetary compensation in a class action. Consumers should be looking at this as a way to get this practice to stop. That's far more important than a few cents worth of free service or a 5% coupon off your next phone or whatever other worthless crap the defendants will hand out.

    Once I find out how to get my name added to this, I certainly will be. Everyone else should, too. It will take 30 seconds to add your name, and the stronger the support for getting this crap to stop, the faster it will stop.

  • Niousha

    I don't want any money.
    I want a criminal investigation, and if hey actually violated these laws, I want them to face criminal prosecution.

    • http://www.sprintsux.com HTC EVO/Ex Sprint Customer

      I agree- with Niousha. Money isn't important to me- the fact that my entire family has been so criminally exposed has me slow burning angry. I also want to see HTC, Sprint, Carrier IQ and the entire rest of the people who broke our laws- pay with perp walks and actual jail time. Artem says lawsuits are premature- I'd respectfully disagree. This is dirtbaggery on the most massive scale- if these slimy corporations aren't smacked down regularly with a vengeance- what in God's name is going to be next?
      Lawsuits hit these scum bags where it hurts them most- in their pocketbooks. I want a "hangem high" judge on this case not one of the weakwilled paid for jurists that let the criminals go free with a slap on the wrist. We need a federal level Special Prosecutor- these are all multinational corporations. The fear of God needs to be put into these devils- or us consumers will be continually preyed upon by them. It must be shown that this sort of evil doing is not only not going to be tolerated- but the punishment is going to be the severest. I say charge them with individual counts for individual acts- and insist that they be charged also with an ongoing criminal conspiracy. RICO

  • http://www.charliemathews.com Charlie

    I hate these lawsuits. I want the people responsible actually prosecuted rather than sued. Suing doesn't benefit ANY OF US. It just fills the pockets of some jackass lawyer.

  • joe

    This would be a great time to invoke the corporate death penalty.

  • Lyndon420

    This really sucks, although I must admit that it brings a small smile to my face to see Apple named in this. Would have made my day to see Microsoft named as well, but i'm guessing this is aimed at companies who are making money from their own products.

    At least my HTC Magic doesn't appear to have ciq installed :)

    • Dingosaurus

      You might want to do some research before saying something stupid like that again.

      WP7 doesn't have CIQ baked into it. End of story, and why they're not named in this class action lawsuit.

      • Lyndon420

        I have done my research...thx. MicroSUCK is a patent troll just like Apple. And DUH...it isn't 'baked' into Android either...nice try lol.

        Before you go around dictating to others about stupidity, you may want to consider doing some research into a username that doesn't make you look like a dork. What are you...12???

  • Eric

    I spoke to the lawyer here in St. Louis that is going after HTC, samsung, Carrier IQ and I wanted to try and help the battle. He said that he is creating a website now that would allow group participation in the suit. This is where the XDA community comes in! He said the more people that jump on board the stronger it will look for a judge. When the website is created, I will post a link where everyone can sign up to go against any company who uses Carrier IQ, and request that they stop.

    "Thank you for asking our firm to represent you in connection with this matter. In order for others who have inquired of you and are interested in pursuing this matter, they can follow the link below to a generic consumer fraud report form on our website. We are adding CIQ/Cell Phone specific forms and content as we speak but that probably won’t be available this weekend. In the meantime, anyone can use the form below to contact us about possible representation. They should be sure to include information about the exact make and model of their cell phone, the operating system it is running (Android, iOS, etc.) and their wireless carrier.

    http://www.hgsslaw.com/PracticeAreas/ClassActions/ConsumerFraudReportRequest.aspx"

    Under "report fraud/claim" put "Carrier IQ, wire tap, device brand name, OS, ect.

    Sign the grouble:

    http://www.groubal.com/remove-carrier-iq/

    Thanks!

    -Eric

  • Eludium-Q36

    The Dept of Justice needs to investigate for criminal prosecution, no one cares for a civil lawsuit that'll simply be settled to the delight of lawyers. Also, all firms - especially the carriers - need to be subjected to the same 20yr probation that Google and Facebook have to endure for their transgressions.

    • http://schpydurx.livejournal.com ProfessorTom

      Here's a thought: If the government winds up forcing privacy audits on companies, where's the need for the Patriot Act? The government can get the information it wants from it's "privacy reviews" of the companies it regulates.

      Who watches the Watchmen?

  • Lyndon420

    There definately should be an investigation into this...and one of the first places to look should be the documentation the OEM's and the carriers signed with CIQ. I can understand getting feedback to see how your product is performing in the wild so you can improve on it, but just how much info is really needed to achieve this without compromising everyone's privacy? This must obviously be outlined in an agreement somewhere, and if CIQ went over board without disclosure to its partners then I feel they should be the only ones named in this case.

  • Eddie

    Good thing I have Verizon and I've been rooted (with continuous root updates and file system exploration) for about a year.

  • Mark

    lol. I wonder if Verizon ever was presented with the option of Carrier IQ on their phones and they had to think about it long and hard and eventually decided against it, I'd bet there were some people at Verizon who felt that was a bad move and now those people are happy as a clam that they decided against. They're the only ones who appear 'safe' from these lawsuits. But if somebody finds Carrier IQ on ONE Verizon smartphone (other than the iPhone, because they do have the iPhone and it does have Carrier IQ) then the wall will come crashing down.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Pretty sure they were, as the list of CIQ urls includes some Verizon demo servers. Pretty sure they got demoed and refused to go further for some reason.

      http://pastebin.com/6vbPR3A7

  • orion15

    CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT? THAT PRETTY MUCH LEAVES OUT THE INDIVIDUAL PHONE OWNER FROM SUING THE COMPANY ALONE. A BUNCH OF LAWYERS GETTING TOGETHER AND SUING SO THEY CAN MAKE A @#$T LOAD OF MONEY FOR THEMSELVES. PATHETIC.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      SHOUT ALL THE THINGS!

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