How to turn off Carrier IQ on your iPhone

Apple says it stopped supporting the monitoring software on 'most' iOS 5 devices

Toggling 'Diagnostics & Usage' to 'Off' disables Carrier IQ on an iPhone. iPhone users can turn off the Carrier IQ software that's raised a ruckus among consumers, bloggers and privacy advocates with just four taps.

Although earlier Thursday Apple said that its newest mobile operating system, iOS 5, does not support the Carrier IQ software, it slipped in a caveat.

"We stopped supporting Carrier IQ with iOS 5 in most of our products ," said Apple in a statement Thursday. [Emphasis added.]

In a follow-up conversation, an Apple representative clarified that that meant Carrier IQ was not included in iOS 5 "on all devices," although she declined to say which devices had the metrics software -- only those with diagnostics turned on, perhaps? -- or to elaborate further.

Another part of Apple's statement read, "With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information."

While Apple's comments seemed at first glance at odds with the findings of iOS developer Grant Paul, who claimed Carrier IQ is present on iOS 5, they actually were not, Paul said later Thursday.

In an update to his original analysis, Paul assured iOS 5 users that, "From my examinations, Apple's recent statement on the issue appears to be entirely accurate."

Carrier IQ is apparently enabled when the user agrees to allow their device to send diagnostic data to Apple -- something that iOS 5 poses when it installs -- or later enables the option manually through Settings.

Like many other handset makers and carriers , Apple also distanced itself from the egregious accusations facing Carrier IQ, that it records keystrokes and logs text messages.

"We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so," Apple said in the statement.

The brouhaha over Carrier IQ began last week when researcher Trevor Eckhart published information about the software, and described it as a "rootkit" that logged keystrokes and recorded user behavior.

Apple also said it would scrub Carrier IQ "from all devices" with a future iOS 5 software update. The company declined to set a timeline for the update's release, however.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

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2 Comments

Anon

1

Apple back down when challenged and thanks are due to Trevor Eckhart for his vigilance.

Anyone know how to check if this appalling spyware is on my Android phone, and how to remove/disbale it if it is?

@PurlPad

2

After reading the logs and information Apple was proposing to send themselves as part of the Diagnostics and Usage opt-in in a recent iOS5 upgrade, I've opted for no. While the info there is fantastically detailed - app usage, locations, data usage, length of time on each wifi etc, it's not something I'd trust a vendor with.

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