Verizon: No Carrier IQ, No way

The largest mobile operator in the U.S. does not install Carrier IQ’s keystroke-sniffing software in any of its phones and doesn’t use the now-controversial company’s data in any way, Verizon Wireless(s VZ)(s VOD) officials said on Thursday.

“Any report that Verizon Wireless uses Carrier IQ is patently false,” Verizon Wireless spokesperson Jeffrey Nelson said in an email. In an email follow-up, spokeswoman Debra Lewis elaborated. “We did recently notify customers about new privacy programs; we were transparent about how customer information will be used and gave clear choices to customers about whether they want to participate in these programs,” she said (the privacy policy is here). “Carrier IQ is not involved in these programs.”

The recent discovery by Android developer Trevor Eckhart of Carrier IQ’s “rootkit” that tracks every action a user makes on Android(s goog) phones has raised all kinds of questions about whether operators, handset makers and other wireless industry players are collecting reams of data on their customers. The app runs hidden and constantly at the lowest level of the Android operating system, apparently tracking every input. There seems to be no way of uninstalling or disabling it without installing a different version of Android; something most won’t know how to do. There’s even evidence of Carrier IQ code in the iPhone(s appl), though according the chpwn blog it appears to be disabled in newer iOS devices. Earlier, Kevin Tofel wrote about how to detect Carrier IQ on your rooted Android phone.

Verizon’s disavowal of the technology is significant because of the sheer volume of Android smartphones in its subscriber base. While T-Mobile USA was the first operator to launch an Android device, Verizon became a heavy backer of the Google platform as it sought to counter AT&T’s(s t) initial U.S. monopoly of the iPhone. At the end of the third quarter, Verizon had 33.6 million smartphone subscribers, the large majority of which use Android devices.

We queried the other three national operators as well, but are still waiting to hear back from them. We’ll update you as soon as we hear, though. Meanwhile, a Rogers spokesperson posted on Twitter that the Canadian operator did not have Carrier IQ installed on its customer devices. MocoNews reported that U.K. operators Vodafone (one of Verizon Wireless’ parents) and O2(s TEF) both denied collecting any customer info with Carrier IQ, while both Nokia and Google said that did not use Carrier IQ’s software on any of their phones (which in Google’s case means Nexus devices; not all Android phones).

Image courtesy of Flickr user kreg.steppe