For the average African American, the cellphone has become a vital tool. Not only is it used for basic calling and texting, it also offers an instant connection to the Internet, making it a useful resource. However, with all of that power, it can also be a hazard and a device that can be made to reveal any and all information on you, even without your knowledge.
Recently it was revealed by an independent researcher, Trevor Eckhart, that there is a hidden application that records whatever data is written on one’s mobile phone. That data is then sent to a company called Carrier IQ. More of a concern is that there’s no way to turn any of this off without hacking your phone. And mobile phone carriers neglected to inform the public that this software exists in the first place.
It’s not known why this information is collected or how it is used. Recently, the U.S Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Americans have no reasonable expectation of privacy when carrying cellphones, allowing police to track GPS signals without a warrant or probable cause. The court ruled in United States v. Skinner that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) abided by the Constitution by using a drug runner’s cellphone data to track his location and determine his identity.
Although the Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures” without the issuance of a warrant obtained due to probable cause, the court considers cellphone use to be ineligible for the protections under the Fourth Amendment.
Carrier IQ is working with mobile phone manufacturers and cellphone carriers to install its spying software on Androids and phones, and it may be on models made by BlackBerry, Nokia and other manufacturers in years to come.
The fact that a private corporation is secretly storing away the data of millions of mobile phone users without their knowledge, should give every American pause.