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Controversy, confusion over Carrier IQ

week in review Mobile data-logger ignites privacy firestorm, while the FCC slams AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile. Also: Facebook settles with FTC.

week in review Controversy over a mobile data-logger flared this week despite confusion over how the software works and what data it transmits. Some security experts said the privacy threat was overblown and it turns out Carrier IQ was falsely accused of "keylogging" in a rush to virtual judgement.

Carrier IQ, a startup that provides tracking tools to carriers and phone vendors, came under fire for allegedly monitoring Android- and iOS-based smartphones. According to Android researcher Trevor Eckhart, an outspoken critic of the company's technology, the company's software running on Android devices can record and relay all kinds of information, including keystrokes, SMS messages in plain text, and even browsing history.

The company's software has also been found on the iPhone, running on every iOS version dating back to iOS 3. However, Apple responded yesterday, saying it hasn't used Carrier IQ since it released iOS 5 last month and will remove it entirely from its products "in a future software update."

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion also told CNET it has neither pre-installed Carrier IQ on its devices nor authorized carriers to do so.

Carrier IQ says the software is designed to give carriers usage and other stats so they can improve the network and service. Mobile security researchers CNET has spoken with say that they believe that the risk posed by Carrier IQ's software has been overblown. And in the end, it seems Carrier IQ was falsely accused of keylogging, although privacy concerns persist. Just what is Carrier IQ's software doing on your phone? And do you really need to worry about it? CNET addresses those questions in this FAQ.
•  Android app tells you if Carrier IQ is on your phone--kinda
•  Cell-phone tracking mall operator has second thoughts

More headlines

FCC report slams AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile

Regulators say the proposed $39 billion wireless megamerger would lead to huge job losses and less competition. AT&T calls the decision to release the report "troubling."
•  AT&T to FCC: You're totally 'one-sided' on T-Mobile deal
•  AT&T and Deutsche Telekom discuss a plan B?
•  AT&T hopes Leap deal will enable T-Mobile buy: report
•  So what's T-Mobile's backup plan?
•  AT&T and T-Mobile merger madness recap (FAQ)

Facebook privacy practices get FTC shakeup

To settle charges of deception, Facebook agrees to get consumers' permission before it changes the way it shares their information.
•  Facebook's FTC settlement won't change much, if anything

ACLU asks Apple to fix Siri's birth-control glitch on iPhone

Siri can tell you where to find dope or an escort, or where to bury a body, but not where to find birth control or abortion services.
•  Apple's iOS 5.1 doesn't fix battery drain bug, say some early reports
•  Apple gives developers an early taste of iOS 5.1

Spotify opens up service to app developers

The company hopes to augment its streaming-music service with new features offered by third-party apps, though it's not yet clear what those will look like.
•  Spotify's 'new direction' is in app makers' hands
•  Will Spotify app ecosystem offer big advantages?
•  Spotify announces app platform (live blog)

A Microsoft bid for Yahoo might put Andreessen in top role

Proposals for a minority piece of Yahoo are reportedly being considered, and one offer from Microsoft, Silver Lake, and Andreessen Horowitz could make Marc Andreessen the company's executive chairman, according to reports.
•  New wrinkle in Yahoo rumors: A leveraged buyout
•  Silver Lake offers $16.60 per share for Yahoo stake, report says
•  Alibaba said to be prepping bid for all of Yahoo

Android continues its lead over Apple's iOS, reports Nielsen

Nielsen's latest stats say Android holds 42.8 percent of the mobile OS market, leaving Apple's iOS in second place with 28.3 percent.
•  Android handsets secretly logging keystrokes, SMS messages?

Google redesign dumps black navigation bar

New Google bar has a drop-down menu for products under the Google logo, as well as the familiar search bar and Google+ tools.
•  Google's Angle grows up, improving browser graphics
•  Google Maps 6.0 goes indoors

Cyber Monday rules U.S. commerce with $1.25B in sales

The Monday after Thanksgiving is officially the biggest online spending day of the year; sales jumped 22 percent over the same day last year.
•  Black Friday online shopping leaps 26 percent

Facebook IPO coming next spring?

The social network is considering launching a $10 billion public offering as early as April 2012, sources tell The Wall Street Journal.
•  Are Zynga employees miserable, ready to bail after IPO?
•  Groupon shares fall off a cliff, down 42 percent since IPO

Also of note
•  WikiLeaks files expose surveillance-industrial complex
•  Amazon favors online sales tax--if smaller rivals also have to pay
•  iPad feeling some heat from Amazon's Kindle Fire
•  RIP Napster--again

This story was updated at 11:11 a.m. PT with new information about Carrier IQ and how it was falsely accused of "keylogging."