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[ale] ACLU Files Complaint With FTC Over Android Security Updates

On 04/21/2013 09:29 PM, James Taylor wrote:
> I have had a half dozen android phones so far, and not a single one has run the carrier software for longer than it has taken me to root it and load a developer rom.
> In my household, I currently have an HTC One S, two Galaxy Vibrants and an LG Optimus, all running the latest Jelly Bean builds for the roms they have loaded.
> By the way, I've never had a problem with a warranty return. I either load the original build or send it as is if dead. Not a peep from the vendor.
> I can understand most consumers not wanting to deal with this, but most consumers don't want to mess with technology in general.  They just want to use what's handed to them.
> Anyone on this list should be able to root a phone and load a rom, maybe with a little help.
> Why complain about your provider not updating your phone when you have access to do it yourself?
> -jt
IMHO the problem is that most people (not people on the list) are afraid 
of "ruining" their phone if they root the OS, etc. I remember on 
observation about most users not switching to Linux - it is they are 
afraid to install any OS on any device (Windows, iOS, Android, etc) and 
stay with the originally installed OS as updated by the vendor. The 
issue is then will the vendor take responsibility to protect their 
mostly technically illiterate customers. That appears to be what the 
ACLU is complaining about; an implied breach of contract. Whether this 
has merit is probably depends on the contract terms.

It is not that installing an OS particularly hard if you take your time. 
It can be very tedious depending on what you must do to actually install 
it (try Windows 7 upgrade from Windows XP).
>>>> Neal Rhodes <neal at mnopltd.com> 4/21/2013   08:23 PM >>>
> yes. the ACLU taking this up seems odd.
> However, I've seen a graph somewhere showing that essentially all
> iPhones ever made can be updated the current versions of IOS.
> But Android phones are a totally different story.   Once the carrier
> stops selling them, they get abandoned and rarely get security
> upgrades.
> i'm not an Apple fan, but the different was quite striking.
> Neal Rhodes
> On Sat, 2013-04-20 at 22:41 -0400, James Taylor wrote:
>> This seems releveant, considering recent conversations...
>> -jt
>>  From the latest Security Alerts Network Newsbites newsletter.
>> "--ACLU Files Complaint With FTC Over Android Security Updates
>> (April 17, 2013)
>> The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a complaint with the
>> US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking that the agency investigate
>> major wireless phone service carriers for failing to deliver updates for
>> known security issues in the Android operating system. The complaint
>> alleges unfair and deceptive business practices for failing to
>> distribute the patches and failing to inform customers that their
>> devices are vulnerable to attacks. While Google has issued updates for
>> the flaws, the carriers have not pushed them out in a timely manner.
>> Apple issues its own updates for its phones, but individual carriers
>> bear the responsibility of pushing out Android fixes.
>> http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/04/aclu-android-security-issue/
>> http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/ACLU-calls-for-FTC-investigation-into-carrier-Android-1844175.html
>> http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/04/wireless-carriers-deceptive-and-unfair/
>> http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/2013/04/16/1d7364fc-a6c9-11e2-a8e2-5b98cb59187f_story.html
>> Text of Complaint:
>> http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/aclu_-_android_ftc_complaint_-_final.pdf
>> [Editor's Note (Pescatore): I think "Politics makes for strange
>> bedfellows" comes from Shakespeare, but it sure applies here: the ACLU
>> filing complaints about security issues? But I like their angle: if the
>> carriers don't push out security patches to the phones, they are not
>> honoring their side of the contracts they lock people into and thus the
>> contracts should be invalidated. Nice incentive for the carriers to more
>> regularly update Android phones. But this also points out the security
>> advantages of the Apple and Blackberry model, where the hardware and
>> software come from one vendor who does push out updates regularly, vs.
>> the Android (and Windows PC) model where the user is on their own.
>> (Northcutt):  Kudos to our story collector, Kathy Bradford! This is a
>> big story and everyone dealing with BYOD and MDM (Bring your own device
>> and mobile device management) has skin in the game.
>> (Shpantzer): Google could learn from Apple's closed ecosystem and
>> enforce discipline in the Android Telco/OEM ranks.  Fragmentation is
>> theoretically good for security against mass malware (not a monoculture,
>> hard to test on infinite number of hw/sw permutations), but old and
>> terminally vulnerable versions of Android persist for months or even
>> years, whereas new Apple iOS versions have 90% penetration in a matter
>> of days or weeks.]"
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Jay Lozier
jslozier at gmail.com