Apple says it is phasing out tracking software

Apple Inc. AAPL -0.13%  said it is phasing out use of a diagnostic program from Carrier IQ Inc. that has raised concerns about privacy, following research reports claiming some smartphones record and share extensive personal information.

The Cupertino, Calif., company said it had stopped supporting Carrier IQ in most of its products when they were upgraded to the iOS 5 mobile operating system, which was released two months ago alongside the iPhone 4S. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris added that the consumer electronics giant plans to “remove it completely” in a future software update.

The controversy over Carrier IQ comes as consumers and security researchers have become increasingly conscious of how and when personal information is collected by products and services they use. A video, posted to Google Inc.’s (GOOG) YouTube video-sharing site, has described software from Carrier IQ being used to track button presses and text messages on a phone made by HTC Corp. (HTCXF, 2498.TW) running Google’s Android mobile operating system.

HTC said Carrier IQ’s software is required by “a number of U.S. carriers,” and that it isn’t a customer or partner of the firm. HTC also said it doesn’t receive any data from the company or the carriers that partner with Carrier IQ. The company declined to comment about whether it uses any other diagnostic tools.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Carrier IQ directed inquiries to a statement on its website that said the software it makes is used to monitor and improve device performance, not to collect personal information.

Apple said its customers must opt in to sharing diagnostic data about how their devices are used. Any data Apple collects are anonymous and encrypted as well. “We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so,” Apple’s Kerris said.

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