Cisco, your favorite provider of network solutions, had an interesting time last week. When the company rolled out its cloud-based administration service Connect Cloud for its Linksys routers (in some cases, performing automatic firmware upgrades without user permission — whoops!), it also revealed some interesting new terms of service.
To wit: “ …we may keep track of certain information related to your use of the Service, including but not limited to … Internet history … and other related information (“Other Information”).
“ … We may also use this Other Information for traffic analysis (for example, determining when the most customers are using the Service) and to determine which features within the Service are most or least effective or useful to you … We may share aggregated and anonymous user experience information with service providers, contractors or other third parties … ”
Don’t bother checking the ToS because the content has since changed. But the implication, of course, was that Cisco reserved the right to sell data based on its customers’ Web browsing habits.
I love how disclaimers around data collection and sharing always attempt to defuse any outrage by emphasizing the user data is “aggregated and anonymous.” Sort of like how someone caught peeping might say “Don’t worry, I didn’t see much.”
In any event, Cisco’s customers weren’t happy. Since then, the company has completely backtracked, stating in a blog post that “Cisco Connect Cloud does not actively track, collect or store personal info or usage data for any other purposes, nor is it transmitted to third parties.”
All well and good I suppose? Just so long as we overlook the fact that Pandora’s box is missing its lid and now consumers can fret about being tracked by their routers, as well as their browsers and ISPs.