You Don't Own What You Buy, Part 15,332: Cisco Forces Questionable New Firmware On Routers

from the not-cool dept

One of the things that we keep learning in a connected, digital age, is that what you think you "bought" you often don't really own. Companies who sell you products seem to feel a certain freedom to unilaterally change the terms of your purchase, after the fact. I'm reminded of Sony removing key features on the PS3, though there are plenty of other examples. A new one is the story of Cisco, pushing out a firmware update to routers without customer approval and (even worse) having that firmware update block people from logging in directly to their own routers. Apparently, if you don't like it... er... too bad.
Cisco has started automatically pushing the company's new "Cloud Connect" firmware update to consumer routers -- without customer approval. Annoyed users note that the update won't let consumers directly log into their routers anymore -- they have to register for a new Cloud Connect account. The only way to revert to directly accessing the device you paid for? You have to unplug it from the Internet.
Oh, and registering for such an account means you have to agree to give up your data so that Cisco can sell it. As per the terms:
...we may keep track of certain information related to your use of the Service, including but not limited to the status and health of your network and networked products; which apps relating to the Service you are using; which features you are using within the Service infrastructure; network traffic (e.g., megabytes per hour); Internet history; how frequently you encounter errors on the Service system and other related information ("Other Information"). We use this Other Information to help us quickly and efficiently respond to inquiries and requests, and to enhance or administer our overall Service for our customers.

We may also use this Other Information for traffic analysis (for example, determining when the most customers are using the Service) and to determine which features within the Service are most or least effective or useful to you. In addition, we may periodically transmit system information to our servers in order to optimize your overall experience with the Service. We may share aggregated and anonymous user experience information with service providers, contractors or other third parties...
Seems like a good way to drive people into buying routers from other companies. I can see how a "cloud service" could have value, but it should be presented to users as a choice, where the actual benefit to them (if there is one) is clearly presented. Instead, this rollout seems designed solely to benefit Cisco and its partners, rather than the people who bought (or so they thought) their routers.

Filed Under: firmware, hacking, routers
Companies: cisco

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  1. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 2 Jul 2012 @ 3:18pm

    Re: No but this letter might get something from them.

    It isn't immediately obvious because these things get written by lawyers but I'll bet dollars to donuts that what they're talking about is storing so called infringing material in their cloud. The same applies to the criminal and civil liability clause. Both are more popularly known as CYA.

    The role of collecting configuration data is for support as is usage to a small extent. Though it would be nice if they actually got off their butt and said that. From some 35 years of supporting telco data and voice stuff it it was always better to know configuration of gear than not so that I could get in the back door and have a look because some 80% of the time a trouble call on a key system or switchboard was some change the customer made that caused the problem. For data that's closer to 100%.

    Anyway, here's nice sample email:
    Dear Cisco,
    I feel your pain at swallowing both legs up to your hips but can you imagine mine at not being able to log into my router now. Not to mention some of the bad wording in the Terms and Conditions of Use that seemed to leave me wide open to you sharing everything about me with the world.
    I appreciate the clarification on your blog at:
    that cleared up some of my concerns however you may be assured that from this point forward I will no longer use Cisco devices in my home or recommend them for any other home or small business. You have lost the good will that you've built up over 30 years with me and a number of others who I've spoken with and we all agree that no matter the technical advantages of your routers we can no longer use or recommend a router whose maker chooses to treat its customers and users in such a cavalier manner.

    Attached is my receipt for my router and plug ins for each of my computing devices including smartphones and I expect a cheque in return as a full refund as the router and all Linksys devices in my home will be put in recycle in an unusable condition to prevent anyone else from suffering through this.

    Yours Truly
    One Immensely Pissed Off Ex Customer.

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