In April, Cisco unveiled a new line of Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers with app-enabled capabilities for consumers to power and enjoy their connected homes of today and tomorrow. The new routers featured built-in support for Cisco Connect Cloud, the next generation of Cisco Connect software.
Back then, Cisco mentioned that Connect Cloud integration would be the differentiating factor for its latest offerings. As things stand, Cisco’s new routers are in the news due to Connect Cloud these days, albeit due to all the wrong reasons.
Whether on purpose or otherwise, the Linksys upgrade forced customers to sign up for the Cisco Connect Cloud. What’s worse, the tool’s terms of service seems to step on not only their privacy, but their right to look at porn on the internet. Understandably, a lot of customers are pissed about their Internet usage being tracked and more so about the tool allegedly blocking their ability to check out porn sites.
Now that’s a double whammy, first you force me to sign up for your service and then you block my porn on the Internet of all things, that’s simply unacceptable
To Cisco’s credit, the networking giant quickly went into damage control mode and acknowledged its mistake. The company removed Connect Cloud as the default setting for management of its Linksys EA Series Wi-Fi routers and also clarified that Linksys customers were not required to sign-up for the Cisco Connect Cloud service and they are able to opt-out of signing up for an account. Cisco is also changing the terms and conditions of Cloud Connect to ease any concerns over data storage and retention policies. The networking giant has categorically stated that its routers won’t store or transmit data about what users do online, nor will Cisco pull the plug on them arbitrarily.
Cisco says the “lack of clarity” in the terms-of-service agreement was what caused the misunderstanding. It’s understandable that a number of Cisco’s customers aren’t amused and have decided to rollback their firmware and ditch the Connect Cloud altogether.
“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,” reads a blog post from Brett Wingo, Cisco’s vice president of networking. “We take responsibility for that lack of clarity, and we are taking steps to make this right.”
Despite the recent fiasco, the networking giant is betting heavily on the Cisco Connect Cloud offering. The company’s broader vision for Cisco Cloud Connect is to use it with home appliances, not just computers and electronic equipment. Cisco is working with top device manufacturers including Whirlpool to simplify the process of getting their network products — such as TVs and home appliances — connected, and to get them communicating more with one another to offer new consumer experiences.
While there’s no doubt that cloud enablement is the future for all devices, the networking giant needs to be ‘smarter’ to avoid such catastrophic mistakes.