ACLU asks feds to investigate major carriers over infrequent Android updates

Apr 17, 2013
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ACLU asks feds to investigate major carriers over infrequent Android updates

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, has filed a request for investigation and complaint for injunctive relief against the 4 major carriers in the United States. In the 16-page document submitted, it complained that the Android phones these carriers sell will rarely, if ever, receive any major updates. While many of us are just annoyed that we don't get the latest Android updates, the ACLU's main issue with the infrequent updates is that non-updated devices are more prone to hacks and malware.

According to some recent statistics, 47.6% of all Android devices still run Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and only 10% of Android devices run Jelly Bean. Ars Technica states that some devices wait as long as 15 months before they receive an update. The ACLU says that major carriers consistently fail to provide customers with updates to "repair known security vulnerabilities in the software operating on mobile devices."

According to some recent research by NQ Mobile Security, mobile malware has increased by 163% in 2012. The research also shows that over 32.8 million Android devices are infected by malware, further reinforcing the ACLU's position. The ACLU states that its a basic requirement for companies to provide security updates for products that they know customers will use to "store sensitive information, such as intimate photographs, e-mail, instant messages, and online banking credentials."

The ACLU states that these carriers are violating the "provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act barring deceptive and unfair business practices", because they don't disclose to customers that the failure of updating a phone's software puts them at great risk. The ACLU is seeking an order from the FTC that will allow customers to end their 2-year contracts "that cover a phone that's no longer eligible to receive updates" without any repercussions.

The ACLU is reinforcing what consumers have been complaining about for quite some time. Many users are frustrated by carriers when they have to wait long periods of time for an Android update to hit their devices. Some people don't see updates at all, and have to update their phones manually through rooting and custom ROMS. To defend its position, Verizon Wireless responded to the ACLU's complaints and has stated,

"We are known for our rigorous testing protocols which lead the wireless industry, and we thoroughly test every update before delivering it to customers. We work closely with our OEM partners to provide mandatory updates to devices as quickly as possible, giving attention and priority to ensuring a good and secure customer experience."

[via Ars Technica]


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