Cisco's Anti-porn Cloud Service Sparks User Uproar

Jul 6, 2012 8:30 AM PST

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A recent firmware update to high-end home routers from Cisco Systems that tells users they can’t use the products to access porn has caused a flood of controversy.

The upgrade to the “Cisco Connect Cloud” service on router models EA4500 and EA2700 that allows Internet connection while away from a main computer was pushed to purchasers without prior notice.

But the new software came with Terms of Service that forbid accessing porn, prohibited file-sharing, sending advertising emails or supporting civil disobedience.

And according to ExtremeTech, a portion of a privacy statement was deleted that said Cisco would keep track of Connect Cloud customers’ “network traffic” and “Internet history.”

The company's terms of service reads: “You agree not to use or permit the use of the Service: (i) to invade another's privacy; (ii) for obscene, pornographic, or offensive purposes; (iii) to infringe another's rights, including but not limited to any intellectual property rights; (iv) to upload, email or otherwise transmit or make available any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, spam, junk mail or any other form of solicitation; (v) to transmit or otherwise make available any code or virus, or perform any activity, that could harm or interfere with any device, software, network or service (including this Service); or (vi) to violate, or encourage any conduct that would violate any applicable law or regulation or give rise to civil or criminal liability.

While we are not responsible for any content or data that you choose to access or otherwise use in connection with the Service, we reserve the right to take such action as we (i) deem necessary or (ii) are otherwise required to take by a third party or court of competent jurisdiction, in each case in relation to your access or use or misuse of such content or data. Such action may include, without limitation, discontinuing your use of the Service immediately without prior notice to you, and without refund or compensation to you.”

In addition to the uproar over censoring what could be accessed, the policy had users wondering if Cisco could also use the service to spy on their actions.

Pressure from the tech community ultimately prompted Cisco's support group to post instructions on how to remove the service and put the old firmware back. ExtremeTech also reported a Cisco blog post that said the service does not "actively track" Internet usage.

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