Cisco backpedals on forced use of its Connect Cloud

With a move that angered many of its customers, Cisco has pushed out an automatic firmware update for its EA4500, EA3500 and EA2700 Linksys routers and has effectively forced their owners to sign up to the Cisco Connect Cloud in order to access many of its features.

Why these particular routers, you ask? Well, it’s because they are shipped to customers with the “Automatic Firmware Update” option selected by default.

And what’s even worse, selecting the option to decline automatic firmware updates won’t even matter from now on, as Cisco has simultaneously amended its Privacy Statement to say that in some cases, in order to provide an optimal experience on the users’ home network, some updates may still be automatically applied regardless of the auto-update setting.

Other changes to the privacy policy also allowed Cisco to keep track of certain information related to the users’ use of the Service such as status and health of their network and networked products; which apps relating to the Service they are using; which features they are using within the Service infrastructure; network traffic; internet history; how frequently they encounter errors on the Service system and other related information.

According to the Cisco Connect Cloud Terms and Conditions, the company also reserves the right to shut down the users’ account if it finds that they have used the service for “obscene, pornographic, or offensive purposes, to infringe another’s rights, including but not limited to any intellectual property rights, or-¦ to violate, or encourage any conduct that would violate any applicable law or regulation or give rise to civil or criminal liability,” as well as comply with the orders it receives by “a third party or court of competent jurisdiction” if the user has been found violating those terms.

Finally, Cisco’s reaction may end up with the discontinuation of the users’ use of the Service without prior notice and without a refund.

As could have been expected, the majority of the users were understandably upset about Cisco’s overstepping of boundaries and have protested en masse.

Cisco finally did some backpedalling by offering the old firmware for download along with the instructions on how to revert the routers back to it, and deleting some of the aforementioned changes to the Privacy Policy (mainly those dealing with the collection of information).

It still reserves the right to make changes to the Privacy Policy at any given time, and the right to force some firmware updates.

“As of last week, buying a new Linksys router means being forced to adopt a “cloud” service that offers no benefits, allows Cisco to snoop your internet history, and gives the company the power to control access to hardware you legally purchased,” ExtremeTech’s Joel Hruska rightly noted. “That’s not what users signed up for, and no collection of apps or GUI improvements is going to change that.”

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