Trevor Eckhart found an app called CarrierIQ that records all your key presses, geographic location, and the messages you receive. It also periodically communicates with CarrierIQ's web site, presumably to upload this data.
Here's where the plot thickens. CarrierIQ sued Eckhart to silence him. The Electronic Frontier Foundation came to his aid, and so Eckhart posted his information. And as it turns out, CarrierIQ doesn't deny that they're doing this:
We had to spy on the village in order to save it. Or something.
In an interview last week, Carrier IQ VP of Marketing Andrew Coward rejected claims the software posed a privacy threat because it never captured key presses.
“Our technology is not real time,” he said at the time. "It's not constantly reporting back. It's gathering information up and is usually transmitted in small doses.”
Coward went on to say that Carrier IQ was a diagnostic tool designed to give network carriers and device manufacturers detailed information about the causes of dropped calls and other performance issues.
I call this sort of thing "spyware". The reason is that it's sneaky - nobody knew it was there until Eckhart released his information. It's running silently on millions of Android devices. There's nothing in the EULA (well, nothing that I can see, which brings us back to that "sneaky" bit) that says they're recording and uploading this "for purposes of debugging".
So caveat emptor. You may want to jailbreak your Android phone, to wipe this out. It looks like it's not easy - back to the "spyware" bit.
Me, I think I'm going to go back to the Motorola Brick.
UPDATE 6 December 2011 16:33: The company issues a denial, with considerable technical information. The technical press seems to find that credible. I'm not so sure, but you know how nasty and suspicious I am.
Still want a Brick Phone, for that retro-techno chic.