It may make sense to outsource a certain segment of your IT work, say calendars, to a respected third-party to cut costs. But what happens when things go wrong? Just ask Rian van der Merwe about his experience when Google Apps for Business caused huge calendar issues at his company:
We run our company on Google Apps for Business, and we’ve never had any problems. Until now. On Friday morning we came in to work to find that all our calendars are completely, utterly messed up. Not only did we lose data and access to our own calendars, but there appears to be a major security breach as well.
The support he has received from Google so far has been so poor that he wrote a blog post asking others for help. Why Google wasn’t able to simply restore it from an acceptable point-in-time is beyond me. After all, they do state their service has “simultaneous replicated storage for your calendar appointment” and “built-in disaster recovery.” This must not be considered a disaster.
As much as we may like to complain about dealing with internal IT folks, at least you have some recourse when you receive terrible service. When dealing with an external support center, unless you have sway over future contract negotiations, your only option may be to wait and hope for the best.
Carrier IQ, makers of the once-covert mobile device monitoring software, continues to receive scrutiny from the U.S government. On Wednesday, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) sent a letter to Larry Lenhart—Carrier IQ’s CEO and President—inquiring about how the software and data collected was being used. Now U.S. Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) has asked the FTC to invesigate whether Carrier IQ has violated the privacy rights of millions of mobile phone users. From Reuters:
“Consumers and families need to understand who is siphoning off and storing their personal information every time they use their smart phone,” Markey said in a statement.
In a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Markey asked the agency to investigate this under its mandate to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
I wonder if the FTC will also look into Carrier IQ’s customers, which include AT&T, Sprint, HTC and—at one time—Apple.
Senator Al Franken (D-MN)—showing interest in the potential privacy issues surrounding the use of Carrier IQ’s mobile device monitoring software—sent a letter on Wednesday to Larry Lenhart, CEO and President of Carrier IQ, asking exactly how the software, and collected data is being used. Of considerable interest is how the software may violate federal laws. From the letter:
These actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is potentially a very serious matter.
Carrier IQ has until December 14, 2011 to provide answers.
AllThingsD talked to Carrier IQ about what is captured via their monitoring software and how it is used. My favorite excerpt:
[…] CIQ still has the ability to capture a wide variety of user data. So who is determining what exactly is being collected?
The carriers. They decide what’s to be collected and how long it’s stored — typically about 30 days. And according to Carrier IQ, the data is in their control the whole time.
“It’s the operator that determines what data is collected,” says Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart. “They make that decision based on their privacy standards and their agreement with their users, and we implement it.”
On this point, Lenhart is particularly emphatic. “We capture only the data they specify, and provide it to them,” he reiterates. “We don’t capture more than that.” […]
It’s like a game of hot potato, and all parties—including the very company responsible for making the monitoring software—are pushing the blame onto the carriers.
AT&T is the latest to admit using Carrier IQ on its network, claiming they use the monitoring software for service- and quality-related purposes. When AT&T was probed for more information as to their usage and policies behind Carrier IQ, Computerworld reported:
Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations at AT&T, however, declined to say whether Carrier IQ is present in all AT&T handsets, what notice users have of its presence and whether users have the ability to turn off the software if they choose.
In an emailed statement, Siegel said that AT&T’s use of Carrier IQ software is in line with the company’s privacy policies. “We’re really not going to offer more detail than what’s in the statement,” he said.