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Carrier IQ VP: App on millions of phones not a privacy risk

Like tiny fish through a net, key taps dropped from memory

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Looking for my mantra

What percentage of that 200KB do you reckon is radio conditions? Would it be 80 percent, 20 percent?

It varies depending on the customer. It could be as much as 80 percent. Our advice to customers is to keep it within that 200KB framework. Just doubling it to 400KB or doubling it to twice a day obviously doubles the amount of processing power you need to deal with it.

Our mantra has always been to throw away as much information as early as possible. Throw away what you don't need on the handset first. Throw away what you don't need as you start bringing it into the cloud, into the data center, and go from there. Less is more in this case. Even at 200KB per day, if you start multiplying that out by thousands, ten thousands, hundreds of millions [of users], it ends up to be a lot of data.

What kind of legacy is there on handsets that run carrier IQ for the collected data? Is it possible for a very determined individual to grab that phone and pull data off of it?

It's really a function of how often the information has left the phone because once the information has left the phone there's no reason to keep it on the phone. And let's just say you did get hold of that information we gathered with whatever tool you had, you'd still have to understand and decode that entire format and what we did. Unless you're going to guess what we did, you'd kind of have to use our tools to be able do that, i.e. you'd have to do what essentially happens when that package gets to the data center.

But that's exactly what reverse engineers do.

Correct. But again, if customers are uploading once a day, you've got the last 24 hours [of data stored]. And if the uploads take place once a week, the level of information that's going to be recorded is going to be way less.

We all know that stuff is never really deleted unless it's specifically wiped, and that's very processor and battery intensive, so I'm guessing Carrier IQ isn't wiping this stuff clean.

We're operating in the RAM space.

Is it fair to say you can't rule out the possibility that a phone recovered by law enforcement or somebody else may be able to pull some of the data that was collected by Carrier IQ and glean information about key taps that were made, phone numbers that were called, etc.?

The key taps, remember, are being filtered and dropped so that's never making its way into any captured [data]. It's in and out in the same way as the fish net analogy with the little fish. It's a memory copy function, so I see this copy, does the pattern match? No, so discard, please.

The other thing to think about is that while you potentially jump through all these hoops, the operators themselves are going to have all this information one way or another. The operators themselves will comply with law enforcement. They will have a huge amount of information even without our technology.

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