In the early days of Android’s popularity, carriers began using a firm called Carrier iQ to aid in the collection of customer data. The firm made software which would come pre-installed on handsets from most carriers and track certain user data. This data was then handed back to the carriers, who would use it to improve their networks and offer better tailored services. In 2011, the cat came out of the bag. The issue here was that the app had access to a bit too much data, causing serious privacy concerns. Users didn’t want their carrier, let alone would-be hackers, potentially having access to things like what apps they used, their browsing data and other sensitive information. After a huge backlash and a recovery period that seemed to take forever, mostly everyone involved simply forgot about Carrier iQ and moved on.
Carrier iQ had been used by many companies in the past, including T-Mobile, Ericsson, IBM and others. As far as licensing after the shutdown and acquisition, however, only Nielsen has been confirmed as a partner. Before the revelation of Carrier iQ’s nature and subsequent backlash, they had managed to raise about $42 million in investments from sources such as CRV and Mohr Davidow, though how much the company was worth and what AT&T paid for it are undisclosed. AT&T, having acquired only assets and not the full company, will not be responsible for any legal loose ends that Carrier iQ still has to tie up in the wake of the backlash over mobile carriers’ use of the software in 2011.