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Got Carrier IQ? At least three apps can tell the answer

Lookout Labs is the latest to release a CIQ detector in the form of a free app.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Contributing editor Eric Mack covers space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Eric Mack
2 min read
Lookout Labs

The world still seems to be sorting out whether Carrier IQ helps improve your smartphone experience or is some sort of privacy antichrist, but in the meantime there's an increasing number of tools to determine whether it's on your phone.

The venerable Lookout Labs--maker of a popular Android antivirus--most recently released a free app to detect if the allegedly malicious keylogging, activity-, and location-tracking process is running on your Android smartphone.

The Lookout app is a very simple Carrier IQ detector: download and install and it does a quick scan to tell you if CIQ is present, but it can't actually remove it from your system. Given Lookout's strong reputation as a security developer for Android, hopefully this free app will be more reliable than another such CIQ detector we saw released this week, which said its "results are not reliable yet."

Trevor Eckhart, the guy you've probably read about by now who first raised the alarm about Carrier IQ and was threatened by the company (it has since backed off and tried to make its case a little more calmly), also developed a detector app, but it's not quite so user-friendly for the non-coder.

So we now have at least three ways to find Carrier IQ, but then what? Some have filed lawsuits against the developer of CIQ and some of the handset makers that use it, but it's not entirely clear that the accusations against it are even legit. The best thing for all us regular old users to do may be just to sit tight and see how this all plays out.

Besides, as Eckhart tells us, we may not have a choice--there's no clear way to remove the thing:

The application is so deeply embedded in our devices that a user must rebuild the whole device (system.img and boot.img) directly from source code to remove every part of CIQ.

Could be worse--at least our phones aren't made from Soylent Green. Are they?