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Carrier IQ Lawsuit Claims 130 Million Phones Illegally Tapped

An irate smartphone user in Illinois is seeking class-action status for a Carrier IQ lawsuit that alleges illegal wiretapping of 130 million cell phones nationwide.

Lawyers filed the suit in St. Louis federal court on behalf of cellular customer Erin Janek, PCWorld reports. The suit claims phone maker HTC and Carrier IQ violated federal wiretap laws by allowing a pre-installed app, also referred to as Carrier IQ, to capture and record phone users' keystrokes and location data.

Carrier IQ denies the allegations. The company says its software only allows cellular providers to diagnose the health of their networks, and has been in use for years without controversy. Keystrokes are neither recorded nor disseminated, the company claims.

But a software researcher's findings suggest otherwise. Trevor Eckhart posted videos online in November after discovering Carrier IQ on his smartphone. The videos show Carrier IQ logging Eckhart's keystrokes as he taps his phone's touchscreen.

That could be a violation of the Federal Wiretap Act, some legal experts suggest. The Act prohibits the intentional interception of any electronic communication, and calls for possible fines of $100 a day per violation.

Janek's Carrier IQ lawsuit seeks punitive damages and a possible court order to stop the companies from further alleged violations. Janek's lawyers hope to include all U.S. users of HTC phones equipped with Carrier IQ -- a number that could be in the millions, PCWorld says.

The Carrier IQ lawsuit is one of at least seven others filed in recent weeks against Carrier IQ and a variety of mobile phone makers including Apple, Motorola, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile, eWEEK reports. The suits all allege unlawful wiretaps.

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