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ACLU blames carriers is demanding a full investigation of the issue

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took the unusual step of injecting itself into the smartphone discussion, asking the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate America's top carriers over claims of Android abuse.

According to the ACLU, Google Inc. (GOOG) regularly puts out patches and upgrades to its Android operating system -- the world's most used smartphone operating system.    But in its 17-page report, it accuses America's top wireless carriers of recklessly endangering consumers by not rolling out updates fast enough.

The report calls out both of America's top two carriers, AT&T, Inc. (T) and Verizon Wireless -- jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD).  But it also accuses Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA of contributing to the problem, as well.

The ACLU wants the FTC to force carriers either to offer customers refunds or to force them to provide warnings that they are inadequately protecting customers.  The advocacy admits that it is unusual for it to look to protect consumers (which is typically the job of other more specialized advocacies), but it said in this case that the security risks from the carrier negligence could be used to justify Orwellian new federal laws -- like the controversial CISPA bill that recently passed the House.

ACLU lawyer Chris Soghoian, who authored and submitted the complaint last Tuesday, comments, "This is part of our attempt to reframe the cybersecurity agenda,.  Before violating anyone's privacy, the government should first be addressing the low-hanging fruit that everyone can agree on."

Android smartphones
The ACLU is targeting America's top carriers for sluggish Android updates.
[Image Source: Android and Me]

While the report may echo the frustrations of many Android users, it was met with scorn and derision by figures in the telecom industry.  Verizon responded that it releases patches and updates "as quickly as possible", but that it must commit "rigorous testing" before any release.  Carriers argue that the nature of Android -- which allows both OEMs and carriers to modify or disable certain functionality (e.g. tethering) -- makes testing a slower and more arduous process.  

They argue that rushed updates could "break" smartphones causing them to gobble data unnecessarily, be unable to run apps, or be unable to make calls.  Indeed this has happened on occasion in the past.

But not everyone is buying that excuse.  Carnegie Mellon Univ. Computer Science Professor Travis Breaux comments, "There are standard practices for testing and evaluating patches.  Microsoft does this all the time."

Sources: ACLU [complaint], AP

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RE: annoyance
By retrospooty on 4/22/2013 7:36:45 PM , Rating: 2
"Someone who has no conception of things like video scalers, the drawbacks of AMOLED pentile matrixes"

I never said the pentile amoled was a superior screen. I can see pixels on it and I can see that it isnt as sharp as an iPhone5 and I can see that the iPhone5 isnt as sharp as a 5 inch 1080p phone. All I ever said was some people prefer amoled's brightness and black levels over std LCD's better color representation. I also said to ME the GS3's screen is a better screen than iPhone5 all totaled, and most of that was size and res. You of course took off on your usual soapbox as if I was proclaiming to the world that a pentile amoled is better... But that is the part that happens in your head as I never said anything like that. That part doesnt actually speak to your technical skills it speak to your reading comprehension and probably mostly to your need to be up on your soapbox.

"Disagree with my preferences all you want but don't call me a liar, ok?"

Oh, so its OK for you to call me liar, but not in reverse? LOL. Nice. Like I said... Your objectivity has been shown to be non-existent and your true motives have been outed.

RE: annoyance
By TakinYourPoints on 4/22/2013 7:45:25 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, so its OK for you to call me liar, but not in reverse?

You know what, fair enough. I have yet to see anyone talk about how they can see the pixels in an iPhone, but you with your super eyesight can. Fine.

However, talking about how I was lying about betting against AAPL when I did five times in the last nine months is complete nonsense.

your true motives have been outed.

Yes, niche opinions like "Samsung's screens aren't as good as Apple's or HTCs", or "Android updates are held up by carriers and manufacturers", or "fragmentation affects third party support", such nasty motives!

I'm sorry reality has a bias that doesn't appeal to you. To me its all just pros and cons, whatever.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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