January 4, 2016
AT&T (T) has purchased certain aspects of mobile device monitoring software developer Carrier iQ, leading the latter company’s website to go dark, according to a report from TechCrunch.
Reports of Carrier iQ’s seeming demise surfaced last week, after TechCrunch received a tip that the mobile phone monitoring company was no more. An AT&T official subsequently confirmed that the telecom giant had “acquired certain software assets from Carrier iQ, along with some staff,” although specific financial details as well as which assets were acquired were not revealed.
Nielsen was also rumored to be involved with the acquisition, but a company spokesperson has since denied knowing of any involvement in the deal, according to TechCrunch. One source claimed that AT&T had planned to license specific CIQ technology to Nielsen to help with its network performance metrics.
Carrier iQ is probably best known for an incident in 2011 in which the developer demonstrated how its code was capable of tracking more than 150 million mobile devices in the United States. While this led to several class-action suits against the company, TechCrunch said it does not believe AT&T will be responsible for taking on any outstanding litigation for the company, as it only acquired certain aspects of Carrier iQ’s tech.
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to guess that AT&T sees the value in being able to monitor customer activity to improve its services, but the true nature of AT&T’s latest acquisition is still up for debate. However, what will be interesting to see is the exact nature and amount of monitoring that AT&T plans to do now that it has access to Carrier iQ’s software.
Data monitoring has traditionally been unpopular among the general public, (despite companies’ claims that they only use the data to improve customer experiences) because users are wary of being watched on the web. Just last month, Google (GOOG) was accused of violating its promise to protect student privacy rights when the Electronic Frontier Foundation claimed that the company had exploited a loophole in its Chromebooks for Education that allowed it to gather Internet search data from minors.
The issue led The VAR Guy to ask enterprise security expert Ron Culler what role MSPs and VARs should play in maintaining customer data privacy, as well as how service providers can protect themselves in case of customer data loss.
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