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Cisco locks users out of their routers, requires invasive cloud service

Generally, when you buy a new device you plan on using it however you want, hopefully with the occasional update to keep everything running smoothly. Every once in a while, though, an update comes along that makes you scream in terror, like the one Cisco just rolled out across their router line, forcing users to register with Cisco's cloud service or end up with a bricked device.

Why in the world would you need to tie your router into some sort of cloud service? So that Cisco can monitor everything you do and sell your information, of course! Alright, alright: on the bright side, you do get anytime, anywhere” access to your router, and access to 'new apps' to enrich your 'connected lifestyle.' We never asked for apps on our router in the first place, but that's beside the point.

Initially, Cisco updated their privacy policy to give them the right to keep track of things like how much traffic goes through your router and which websites you're looking at:

When you use the Service, 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”).

Since then, they decided to yank that little addition (although they still have the right to change it back without notice), and thanks to user outcry, they've also provided some instructions to revert back to the old firmware and avoid these problems. Unfortunately, the vast majority of users will never even know about the update, or even what firmware is, let alone how to revert to an older version of it.

Aside from the obvious privacy issues, the real problem here is that they're trying to take your porno and warez away from you. The terms of service of Cisco's Cloud Connect service contains some really interesting clauses:

You agree not to use or permit the use of the Service: (i) to invade another's privacy; (ii) for obscene, pornographic, or offensive purposes; (iii) to infringe another's rights, including but not limited to any intellectual property rights; (iv) to upload, email or otherwise transmit or make available any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, spam, junk mail or any other form of solicitation; (v) to transmit or otherwise make available any code or virus, or perform any activity, that could harm or interfere with any device, software, network or service (including this Service); or (vi) to violate, or encourage any conduct that would violate any applicable law or regulation or give rise to civil or criminal liability.  

As a result of that, Cisco reserves the right, 'without limitation,' to transform your router into a useless brick if they decide you're uploading a little too much porn on their cloud service, or if they catch you uploading that CD you just ripped. That could raise another red flag for people who still value their privacy, since enforcing those rules would probably mean keeping tabs on what each file that passes through the service is. With any luck, though, it's just an attempt to keep Cisco Cloud Connect from becoming the next Megaupload.

Via: Neowin Forums | Boing Boing
Source: Extreme Tech

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