More Transparent Tracking—Why Is There No App for That?
Amid widespread concern over an obscure piece of smart-phone diagnostic software that some experts say could be used to collect and transmit sensitive information, a leading academic has called on the industry to give users a one-click way to see what their gadgets are actually doing.
“It would be good to have some form of auditing function built into our devices,” says Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law School professor and cofounder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “The auditing function can be implemented by Apple and by handset makers through Android. Make it part of the ‘About’ tab. And it would show with whom the phone has been communicating and the sorts of things it has been sending.”
Zittrain raised the idea in an interview following a controversy over software developed by a small company called Carrier IQ. Installed on at least 140 million phones, the software is designed to operate in the background and send performance data from handsets to telecom carriers, allowing carriers to diagnose dropped calls and obtain other network information.