The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday. In it they contend that Mobile Carriers are creating security risks for their customers by not releasing updates in a timely manner. As anyone still suffering with an ancient version of Android can tell you, carriers can take their time to push new Android updates even when the manufacturer has completed it, and there’s a point where a phone model will be completely left behind, often long before the end of its contract.
“A significant number of consumers are using smartphones running a version of the Android operating system with known, exploitable security vulnerabilities for which fixes have been published by Google, but have not been distributed to consumers’ smartphones by the wireless carriers and their handset manufacturer partners,” the text of the complaint states, “There are millions of vulnerable Android phones in the hands of consumers today because wireless phone carriers and phone hardware makers refuse to transmit existing software security fixes to phones in a timely manner, according to a security researcher.”
The security concerns are absolutely real and an increasing concern for Android users. But I have to say anything that forces carriers to get out the updates in a more timely manner is great news for all customers since so many folks are still running outdated versions of the OS. Gingerbread is still on a majority of devices and it’s two years old!
The ACLU complaint ends with a “Request for Relief” that outlines the way it feels carriers should address the alleged grievance. Whatever comes of this, hopefully it will lead to faster updates for everyone!
“REQUEST FOR RELIEF
The ACLU requests that the Commission investigate the major wireless carriers and enjoin
their unfair and deceptive business practices. Specifically, the ACLU requests that the
A. Compel the major wireless carriers to warn all subscribers using carrier-supplied
Android smartphones with known, unpatched security vulnerabilities about the
existence and severity the vulnerabilities, as well as any reasonable steps those
consumers can take to protect themselves, including purchasing a different
B. Compel the major wireless carriers to permit consumers under contract who are
using carrier-supplied Android smartphones which have not received prompt,
regular security updates to end their contracts early, without any early termination
C. Compel the wireless carriers to permit consumers who are using carrier-supplied
Android smartphones less than two years old which have not received prompt,
regular security updates to either:
1. Exchange, at no cost, their existing device for another phone that will
receive prompt, regular updates directly from Apple, Google, Microsoft or
another mobile operating system vendor.
2. Return the phone and receive a full refund of the original purchase price”