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You Have No Privacy

Written on Saturday, December 3, 2011 by


If you are like us, every day you pick up a smartphone and you send email, visit with friends on Facebook, send a text message or even log into your bank’s website and pay a bill. These modern day conveniences have become routine.

We all believe that our passwords are secure, our data is protected, and life is easier if we don’t have to write a check to pay a bill or dig around and find a stamp to send a friend a quick note.

But this morning we are no longer sure. The tech world is in a fury, which we believe will soon break out into society at large, about a little know software program call Carrier IQ. Over the Thanksgiving weekend a 25 year old programmer by the name of Trevor Eckhart posted a video on YouTube which graphically displays how our naive beliefs of privacy are just plain wrong.

The video which lasts 17 minutes and starts slowly because he methodically goes through the privacy statements on his cell phone is frightening. If you watch it, you will never look at your smartphone the same again. We have posted the video at if you want to watch.

The program, Carrier IQ cannot be turned off. But it tracks your every move. Dial a friend’s phone, it sends the number off to someone. Send or receive a text message and the message is recorded and sent off. Call up your bank or another website in the allegedly secure https: mode which we have been told is secure and Carrier IQ is there recording your username, password and any other move you make on your phone.

Rather than calling them smartphones we should be calling them people monitors. The only action you take which it cannot record is a thought in your head that you refuse to express. These phones are even capable of recording what you say. Scary is not the word for it.

Trevor Eckhart even takes pains to turn off the GPS function for use by Google maps and search and then he demonstrates how Carrier IQ still is logging your position.

Now what can you do about it? The program can only be removed if you hack or as they say “root” your phone. But beware rooting your phone likely violates the contract you have signed with your carrier, and it clearly voids any manufacturers’ warranty you may have on the device.

Since the video was first posted others have gone to work and exposed how in addition to Android phones the Carrier IQ software is also present on I Phones with iOS 3 operating system and above.

The privacy issues surrounding smartphones have been numerous, but the exposure of Carrier IQ brings the threat to an entirely new level. Chances are if you have a smartphone you have no privacy around or while using the device. Be careful.

Makes you understand why criminals all use burner phones.

©2011 Floyd and Mary Beth Brown. The Browns are bestselling authors and speakers. To comment on this column, e-mail Together they write a national weekly column distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Floyd is also president of the Western Center for Journalism.

This column has been edited by the authors. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the authors.

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  • stephen russell

    Thank U now I wont buy a smartphone or User Tracking Device: UTD.
    Make more news about Carrier IQ.
    Must make more Public.

    • barbpatton

      thankyou – can u tell me what a burner phone is, or will we have to resort to pigeons and smoke fires??

    • Peter S. Chamberlain

      “burner phone” is one of the prepaid cell phones you can still get some places without giving your ID, real name, etc., and then throw away before it creates much of a trail. In the name of the phony sham scam called the “war on drugs,” or whatever the Obama administration is calling that this week, which even the DEA Web site shows they know we’re losing, you are no longer supposed to be able to get one anonymously, but you can if you play the game right. No “smart” phones, though.
      This is outrageous and what we used to call “our” government should have stopped this and other invasions of privacy in their tracks, but neither party protects our privacy. And don’t kid yourself that only the bad guys have any reason to be concerned about privacy.

    • YEP

      A burner phone still gives your gps. they just don’t know who “you” is. they are associated with the phone number. your phone number is associated with people you call. anywho….

    • C. Pierce

      Pigeons? They got them covered. All pet birds must be chipped, including pigeons. It will be illegal to keep a pigeon coop, and if your canary escapes, you will be arrested for “Test Run for Covert Communication.” 😉

  • Co-opted Confederate

    You needn’t worry Stephen: Big brother will implant a micro chip in you that will do even more plus they will charge you for it and then tax you every time you leave your house. Unless Obama and obama care are done away with very very soon.

    • Jim

      Go ahead and blame it all on Obama you stupid ass, when it was Bush who put it all in affect.

    • Kay

      Hope you are not taking up for Obama. No doubt Bush was part of the problem, but can’t see how you or anybody else could take up for the treasonous Obama.

  • Shot in the Foot

    Never trusted the darn things. Glad I don’t have one. Kind of like Russa bugging everyone. Wow isn’t that interesting.

  • http://ThePatriotUpdate Michael G.

    Is it Smartphone or Stupid user? I can never tell.
    We may have to start sending messages by code.

    • Wondering Woman

      More like stupid user, don’t you think?

    • http://ThePatriotUpdate Michael G.

      You’re probably right.

  • fliteking

    Tracphone. Cheaper. Change your phone and number yearly. Live without the extra crap on the smart phone, all parlor tricks anyway.

    • http://ThePatriotUpdate Michael G.

      I’ve been using an old cell phone, and now I’m not going to change it.

    • steve

      Have any of you ever wondered why all the phones in the US are Locked…that is there is no SIM card in them. You are locked into your carrier when you buy the phone. Yes you can change the carrier and keep your number but only after signing on for a new 1 or 2 year plan.

      I currently live in Eastern Europe. Here we just go to any of the more than numerous street side vendors and pay about $1.63 for a new SIM Card. Means new number, new everything.

      A former Soviet Satellite country lets me change my number at well, on demand but the US will not???? What is wrong with that picture?

      For discussion, questions, and topics concerning current events in America with consideration of the past and events abroad as they effect America today please click on my name. Thank you.

    • http://N/A jerry

      Steve; I have a friend who worked for G.M.
      for 30 yrs.=He says autos(all) domestics have had traceable chips installed since++
      +++++++++++++++1974,,if you trade the car,,
      the chip# goes with it…if the govt. wants to track it ,,they can…

  • Thistle

    I’ll keep my 5 1/2 yr old Samsung basic analog flip phone,thank you very much.Never will own a Blackberry,ipad,ipod or any of that other garbage either.

  • Barb Groseth

    Is it just with smart phones or all cell phones? I have a sony ericson flip phone. I do have internet on it, but that is as far as the bells and whistles go.

  • R.Cook

    Not to discourage all you folks from making comments in here but your ISP records every site you visit and probably how long you stayed there. It does not bother me because I am probably on a data base already because I wrote a book critisizing our wonderful governemrnt.

    • http://ThePatriotUpdate Michael G.

      Let ’em come. I prefer a straight-up fight instead of all this sneaking around (Indiana Jones…)

    • Barb Groseth

      I am not too worried about it either. My husband and I, mostly I, have extremely vocal
      Since before the 2008 election and even more so the past 12 – 18 months, in criticizing The Commander of Crime and his cronies. Infact you could say we’ve been on a “search and destroy mission.” Before anyone jumps the gun, I do not mean physical harm. But our nation, our constitution, our faith and our basic human rights are being destroyed, and I don’t intend on sitting back and watching it happen without putting up a fight.. So I have no doubt I am high up on a few watch lists. It is better than sitting back complaining and saying things like “Somebody should do something about Obama,” and then do nothing.

    • am2sweet

      I’m sure we’re on someone’s list. We are very vocal also in things don’t like and Obama is at the top of the list along with his czars and others. I don’t use a cell phone or any other phone like that. Unfortunately my husband has to use cell phone for work but that’s not like any personal things on it. I do know that most of the advanced technology has been of more benefit to the government than us although a lot of people would say they need their Ipod or blackberries. I had a cell phone once and found every area one won’t work in . So, I got rid of it.

    • PrincessPhilly

      We are all on Obama’s hit list just from posting comments on sites or comments to articles that we talk against the government and him.

      We will be in the first round of people rounded up for the concentration camps that have been built with coffins waiting for us all around the country. Soon martial law will be declared and the communists will take over.I’ll see you all in the concentration camps awaiting execution.

      Just watch Jessie Ventura’s Conspiracy theory films on YouTube of the episodes that the government would not allow to run showing all the camps and he filmed the coffins and states the governments plans to divide the country into 9 segments after martial law is declared.



  • czman75

    Would really like to know more about this thing called “rooting” the phone. I don’t have a contract and I am not worried about a warranty. Anyone know what to do?

  • Nancy Hipp

    The cell phones are the tip of the iceburg! I have a clock/temperature monitor that communicates directly with a gov’t. agency (NOAA)sitting right in my living room (not to mention the weather alert radio! They have many ways to enter your home. Every land line phone conversation is also recorded. Who knows what cameras or microphones are in our TV’s! When you register your camera, every digital picture you post is identifiable. There’s much more to worry about than cell phones!

  • c stan

    Making Criminals out of Law Abiding Citizens for Generations by writing more & More Rediculous Laws to Control Law Abiding Citizens in the name of Public Safety!
    Real Criminals just keep on Laughing and commiting Crimes!

  • Angie

    People are pathetic. So what if they track you? What is wrong is when they tax you and legislate your behavior. We are such a litigious society. As steve stated in this comment strand, things are done differently in different part of the world. Our laissez faire political system has been taken over by commercialism. Whoever has the biggest wallet has the biggest voice, and guess what… the government has the biggest wallet. We need deregulation. But we can’t achieve deregulation in the USA because most people won’t “act responsibly” unless there is a law requiring them to do so. We as a people need to act responsibly! Or tell our government to stop forcing us. Representative democracy only works in theory, but not in reality. How can we be heard? I think that is a question most Americans want answered. Will any politician really try to listen to the people who they are representing? Or will they only continue to attend to their personal agenda, political contributors, political party officials, and governmental officials? No politician campaigns on the idea of listening to the people. But that’s what we need.

  • Denis Palmer

    I just about do not use PAN as the changes have eliminated all the posts I used to get and replies are not the same and answering … is not the same,,,
    and my opinion the new format is nonfunctional,,posting is not working and if there is a post it is hidden so it is like putting a advertisement on a pole that no one can ever see, a wast of time and effort,,,
    a simple proof that like the democrats wanting to fix out country , when it was not broken it now is broken,,
    things that sounded good on the top, have proved to be free enterprise demise now we have capitalism, and that is not free enterprise,, taxed and regulated to death , now we have regulations and fees and licensing ,,, like smog checks in California, only there to collect money,, not to reduce pollution,