Carrier IQ, Pre-Transit Keystroke Logging, and the Federal Wiretap Act

June 23, 2012

Mobile analytics software companies must walk a fine line between providing useful data to their customers—handset manufacturers and wireless network operators—and protecting the privacy rights of consumers whose data they collect. In late 2011, a relatively unknown Connecticut-based systems administrator named Trevor Eckhart revealed that mobile analytics software developer, Carrier IQ, may have crossed this line by surreptitiously collecting outgoing cell phone numbers, SMS message text, and web addresses on user handsets. Although recent judicial decisions have narrowly interpreted the Federal Wiretap Act to exclude pre-transit keystroke logging, courts hearing the upcoming Carrier IQ class action suits should abandon these narrow interpretations in favor of a broader interpretation consistent with the Act’s original purposes.