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Cisco Doesn't Want You To Use Their Routers To Look At Porn Remotely

By / 07.05.12

If you’ve ever wondered whether that end-user license agreement you ignore can directly affect your life, wonder no further. Cisco has recently pushed through a router update that forces you to connect to their “cloud” service — with terms that say you can’t use the technology you bought from them to look at porn.

Specifically, there’s this section of the EULA:

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.

Oh, and they also deleted a part of the Privacy Statement that says they won’t track you. If you’re wondering why Cisco suddenly cares so much about your dirty secrets, they don’t. They care about not getting sued.

Here’s what’s going on in the brains of their lawyers. As we all know, the RIAA, MPAA, and every sleazy two-bit pornographer on the planet is currently trying to use the legal system to commit extortion. As we’ve also mentioned before, that method of taking someone else’s money is starting to dry up as judges realize what’s going on.

So it’s extremely possible somebody will get the bright idea to sue the people who make file-sharing possible instead. This is especially true if Cisco is going to roll out a cloud service, like they just did, that allows you to control how your router is used remotely. It’s extremely unlikely that Cisco would lose a court case arguing that it’s not responsible for how others use its products, but they’d like to head off spending millions of dollars on a case that will drag out for years if they can.

The problem is that Cisco did not make joining this cloud service voluntary — if you want to monkey with your router at all, you have to sign up for it. You know, because Web accounts aren’t a security risk at all.

This probably won’t affect 95% of Cisco’s home customers, but it is an important reminder that the legal hissy fits giant companies throw really do affect us, even if it’s just in annoying ways.

(Image courtesy Guerretto on Flickr)


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