Published by LawTechie - July 6, 2012 - LawTechie

Internet lawLast week Cisco issued a firmware update for its Linksys routers which “forces” users to manage the router via Cisco’s Cloud Connect platform (hosted on Cisco’s servers) rather than on the user’s home network (the traditional way of managing your router). Users were understandably peeved because, among other things, the Cloud Connect platform required users to agree to Cisco’s privacy policy and terms of use — things that users do not need to think about when they manage their networks on their own networks.

Users were particularly concerned with this new mandatory privacy policy because it gave Cisco quite a bit of control with regard to personal information:

“When you use the Service, we may keep track of certain information related to your use of the Service, including but not limited to … 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.”

Cisco has since rolled back its privacy policy and deleted the aforementioned language, albeit this does not warrant much considering that the Privacy Policy gives Cisco the right to update it at any time.

MediaPost further reports that the privacy policy contained some questionable limitations with regard to what users could use their routers to access:

In another surprise for users, the Connect Cloud terms of service includes a requirement that consumers won’t use the service “for obscene, pornographic, or offensive purposes,” or “to infringe another’s rights, including but not limited to any intellectual property rights,” or to send any “unsolicited or unauthorized advertising.”

Needless to say, some of those conditions would almost certainly be unconstitutional if the government tried to impose them. After all, plenty of judges have ruled that people have the free speech right to say things that others find “offensive.”

Why Cisco’s attorneys would seek to control user’s pornography viewing is an interesting question in itself. The bigger implication, from a privacy rights perspective, is that Cisco would have to monitor users’ pornography viewing in order to enforce its terms of use… I am not sure which is more disturbing.

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.

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