Carrier IQ, T-Mobile, Sprint, RIM face class-action suits

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Joining the growing parade of class-action lawsuits against cellphone software company Carrier IQ Inc., suits have been filed by a group of five California plaintiffs alleging that the Mountain View, Calif., company and affiliated wireless carriers and phone makers violated state law by ‘surreptitiously intercepting communications’ of smartphone customers.

The plaintiffs are all clients of Century City attorney Susan Yoon, who filed the class-action suits Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Carrier IQ, T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel Corp., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., Samsung Telecommunications America and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd. Each suit alleged that the companies secretly recorded user cellphone activities.


‘In violation of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, defendants herein secretly intercepted, received, recorded and/or monitored’ the plaintiff’s communications without alerting the plaintiff, the suit against T-Mobile alleges.

The suit also alleges that Carrier IQ’s software ‘records and transmits to defendants keystrokes, content of text messages and passwords.’

That assertion has been disputed by Carrier IQ and a group of security researchers, who said that a video purporting to show the capturing of keystrokes and text messages had been incorrectly analyzed by the amateur security researcher who made it.

Nevertheless, the company has stopped short of offering details about the specific types of smartphone user data it collects, saying only that ‘a great deal of information is available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset.’

Doubts about the types of information the company and its clients collect have led to a series of state and federal class-action suits, as well as questions from federal legislators and privacy activists.

A Carrier IQ spokeswoman declined to comment on the California actions.

‘The company has not seen or been served on any lawsuit, so we cannot comment on the allegations at this time,’ she wrote in an email.


When reached by telephone, Yoon, the attorney, declined to discuss the suits, including whether one of the named plaintiffs, Steve Yoon, was a familial relation.

The T-Mobile suit seeks both liquidated damages ($5,000 per violation to each class member) and an injunction to prevent further alleged violations of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act.


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-- David Sarno