Carrier IQ's Magnolia Mansourkia Mobley Sets the Record Straight About Mobile Analytic Products
Magnolia Mansourkia Mobley, the Chief Privacy Officer of and one of only two authorized spokespersons for mobile analytics firm Carrier IQ, recently granted InfoQ this exclusive e-interview. Coming after the Trevor Eckhart interview, it affords the international company an opportunity to respond to any negative community perception of their applications. Of which the current product names are iQ xPlore and iQ Care.
1. What if anything have the Trevor Eckhart disclosures done to change Carrier IQ's views on protecting the private data of smart phone users?
In 2011 Trevor Eckhart found logs on his device that he believed were associated with Carrier iQ data. Our response at the time, which has since been confirmed by a detailed FTC investigation, is that the data collection logs were associated with and used by the manufacturer of the device, not Carrier iQ. They were not Carrier iQ logs.
In terms of our views on the privacy of smart phone users, our views have not changed. We have consistently believed that mobile device users deserve strong privacy protections including transparency, data minimization and appropriate security measures. This has never changed and we continue to prioritize improving and implementing privacy protections for our customers.
2. What is your position on the DHS' Roll Call Report characterization of Carrier IQ as malware?
That so called report is so erroneous and flawed that it appears there was no real research or expertise that went into drafting it. It is likely the reason it has gained very little traction within the established software security community. The author(s) never contacted us and it is clear they had no comprehension of what our offering accomplishes.
3. Is Carrier IQ a root kit?
Carrier iQ's iQ Agent is not a root kit. The general definition of a root kit, as highlighted by Wikipedia, is a set of software tools that enable an unauthorized user to gain control of a computer system without being detected. That's not what we do. Our iQ Agent does not, and has never, allowed unauthorized access to any device nor has it ever allowed the data from any device to be accessed or used by an unauthorized party.
4. What do you see as the proper role of root kits in the software world?
We are not involved in root kits, so it is not a relevant question for us.
5. What is Carrier IQ's assessment of the mobile app that claims to ID Carrier IQ?
Our focus, every day, is to help our customers create the most positive and stable mobile experience for consumers. We believe users have the right to use whichever apps they choose on their device. However, if users are looking to improve their device security or prevent unauthorized access to their data, using ID Carrier IQ will not serve that intended purpose.
6. How do you go about qualifying a potential Carrier IQ customer?
We have been expanding our target market and we enjoy a geographically diverse customer base. One of our areas of focus with our customers is to partner with them to ensure they understand the privacy mechanisms we employ and to assist them in fully leveraging those mechanisms, including customization of consent features. Our shared goal with our customers is to facilitate a transparent, privacy protective and consumer friendly delivery of services.
7. Do you have any advice for software developers on how to protect their app users' private data?
Our Carrier iQ team has the benefit of a privacy expert who is an established leader in creating comprehensive privacy programs. We believe every organization should follow our lead and, regardless of size, establish an appropriate privacy program, educate its personnel on data protection measures and implement policy and technical protections it employs for customers. For example, privacy reviews should be incorporated into the product lifecycle. And of course, there are applicable laws and regulatory guidelines that should be understood and implemented.
At Carrier iQ we have built in privacy protection into all of our practices across the company and throughout our solutions.
8. What message do you wish to convey to InfoQ's readers regarding Carrier IQ and its technology?
At Carrier iQ, our mission is to improve the user experience in mobile devices, and we take pride in delivering our services in a responsible and privacy protective manner. With privacy and security as strong features in our products, we provide the Android community the opportunity to gain a superior experience by working with carriers to ensure devices work properly and improve continually. While Microsoft's CEIP (Customer Experience Improvement Program), or the Apple iOS embedded diagnostics provide similar diagnostics, no other organization has the depth of experience in working across carriers and manufacturers.
At Carrier iQ, we provide our customers with outstanding mobile diagnostics services delivered with a range of privacy and consent features built-in to enable customization of such features to fit seamlessly with established privacy requirements throughout the globe.
Ben Linders May 28, 2015