Cisco Systems officials are continuing to try to calm customers still riled up over the automated updates to some of their Linksys wireless routers, most recently by announcing that Cisco Cloud Connect will no longer be the default management tool.
Consumers took to sites like Facebook and Slashdot to express their anger with Cisco. One user on Slashdot argued that they were pretty sure that this wasn't a case of mere stupidity, brought on by poor, poor, management's exposure to too many buzzwords. This is a straightforward control grab, an overt attempt to turn a low-margin hardware sale into an ongoing data harvesting and customer lock-in opportunity.
For their part, Cisco executives have been addressing consumer concerns, and have apologized twice in posts on the Cisco blog from Brett Wingo, vice president and general manager of Ciscos Home Networking unit. In a July 5 post, Wingo tried to address issues raised by users and noted that the company itself was the source of much of the confusion.
We believe lack of clarity in our own terms of service has contributed to many of our customers concerns, and we apologize for the confusion and inconvenience this has caused, Wingo wrote. We take responsibility for that lack of clarity, and we are taking steps to make this right.
Users negative reactions began soon after Cisco Cloud Connect launched July 27. The service is designed to enable consumers to easily connect their multiple mobile devices to their WiFi networks, and to manage those networks remotely via the mobile devices. Cisco officials said the service deals with many of the tasks involved with setting up and connecting devices to the network.
Those users with Linksys EA2700, EA3500 and EA4500 routers soon found that automated updates had been pushed to their hardware, and that rather than being able to log onto the routers as they had been doing and getting access to traditional management tools, they were being brought to a page through which they could sign up for Cisco Cloud Connect.
In addition, the wording appeared to ban users of those routers from going on online for "obscene, pornographic or offensive purposes."
Cisco officials quickly changed the wording in the policy, including removing the part about collecting users Internet histories. In addition, they have also stressed that the companys Cloud Connect is an optional service that isnt required for using a Linksys EA router, and have simplified the process for opting out of the service.
The default setting was changed back to the traditional router setup and management.
If a customer chooses not to set up a Cisco Connect Cloud account, they can manage their router with the current local management software, Ciscos Wingo wrote in his blog post.
Those who have signed up for the cloud service and want to return to local management software can do so by contacting the Linksys customer support line at 800-326-7114 or going through the online guide. In addition, software updates will not be pushed to routers where the auto-update service has been switched off.
Wingo also reiterated that Cisco doesnt collect Internet usage information through the routers, and that the company wont disconnect customers from the Internet based on usage. The only information collected is needed for signing up and support for Cisco Cloud Connect, he said.
If a customer signs up for the Cisco Connect Cloud service, they are asked to provide a new username, a password, and an email address, which is required to set up the account, Wingo wrote. When the customer sets up a Cisco Connect Cloud account, they are asked to provide a local administrative password for the EA Series router to associate it with a Cisco Connect Cloud account. Cisco does not store this local administrative password.