Photo: Associated Press
Cisco Systems told users of its new high-end home routers — in a roundabout way — they couldn’t use their routers for porn or to send certain types of e-mail and a whole list of other things.This has made a lot of people angry. Here’s what happened.
Last week, Cisco sent out an upgrade to the software that makes its routers work, called firmware. The upgrade affected two models, the EA4500 and the EA2700. Without asking, Cisco moved them to its “Cisco Connect Cloud” service. This software does things like let you set up a password for the device, or otherwise tinker with it.
The supposed main benefit of Connect is that it will let you link with the device over the Internet, when you are away from home, instead of having to use a PC that is directly connected to the router.
Here’s the catch: the Cisco Connect Cloud Terms of Service forbids a whole bunch of things including porn, sending advertising e-mails — it won’t even allow you to “encourage any conduct” that would violate the law.
Wait, there’s more. Cisco reportedly deleted a portion of a privacy statement that said Cisco would keep track of Connect Cloud customers’ “network traffic” and “Internet history,” ExtremeTech reported.
That led people to wonder — was the router watching what people were doing on the Internet and reporting it back to Cisco? Would Cisco turn off your router if it caught you watching porn, sending out e-mail advertisements for your business, or voicing support for an act of civil disobedience?
The uproar got so loud that Cisco’s support group quietly posted instructions on how to remove the service and put the old firmware back. Cisco PR then offered up a blog post that promised the service does not “actively track” your Internet usage.
But Cisco did not roll back the firmware on its own. If you bought an EA4500 or EA2700 and want to get rid of Cisco’s Cloud Connect service, Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica today posted a great how-to guide here.