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ACLU: Carriers Are Mostly at Fault for Leaving Android Unsecured

April 22, 2013 - Written By Lucian Armasu

It’s no secret that carriers can be painfully slow when it comes to upgrading their Android devices to the latest version of Android, and perhaps even more importantly to the latest bug fixes and security fixes. ACLU seems to agree, and they think this is very dangerous for consumers, because they leave millions of people with potential security holes if they don’t upgrade their phones on time.

“Android smartphones that do not receive regular, prompt security updates are defective and unreasonably dangerous,” ACLU said in the complaint on Tuesday.

ACLU goes as far as asking FTC to compel carriers to allow Android smartphone owners to cancel their contracts without a termination fee, if there’s a known security bug for their phones, and their phones are not updated in a timely manner. That seems like a very reasonable proposal to me. The carriers took upon themselves to “handle” the phones that go through their network, and put all sorts of software on top of that, that could cause those security risks, so it’s their job and obligation to support and fix those phones quickly. If they can’t do that, then the customers should be allowed to leave them for another carrier. If you have a subsidized phone, you would have to pay the full price of the phone unlocked, minus the monthly subsidies (included in the monthly contract price) that you’ve paid until then. If the carriers are unwilling to do this, then maybe they shouldn’t be in the business of handling all these phones themselves, and they should let the OEM’s do it, just like Apple does with the iPhone. The only reason they do it themselves is not because they “have to” but because they are greedy, and want to make even a few extra bucks on every customer by signing deals with certain app developers, and putting their own apps in there. If consumers would start to speak out more against the carriers’ (mis-)management of their phones, and getting the company that actually makes those phones to support them, things just might change. People could also start moving more towards Google’s Nexus devices or the upcoming Motorola phones, since Google has done a much better job at updating those phones with security fixes, and upgrading them to the latest version of Android before anyone else.