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July 03, 2012

Cisco Connect Cloud Rollout Entangled with Privacy Issues

Since Cisco rolled out its Connect Cloud software platform for Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers, some customers have come forward with questions surrounding the company’s opt-in practices, claiming that they were met with a different interface after they did not want to submit any network information to the cloud.

The new Connect Cloud platform, Cisco officials said in a statement, “dramatically simplifies how consumers connect, control and interact with their connected devices, including personal entertainment and home appliances.”

Connect Cloud is aimed to handle many of the cumbersome and more complicated technical aspects of home network set-up and connecting devices to the network, allowing the “average person” to access and use their Internet service, as well as a wide range of new uses enabled by the home network.

But the product launch got off to a rough start.

Since Cisco announced the availability of its Connect Cloud product last week, the San Jose, Calif.-based company has heard from customers who told Cisco that they are enjoying the new access and enhancements that the new software platform adds to their Smart Wi-Fi Routers, according to Brett Wingo, vice president and general manager of Cisco Home Networking.

“We’ve also heard that some customers are confused about our terms of service, particularly with regards to their data privacy, and so we felt it was important to clarify our policies,” he wrote in this June 29 blog post.

According to a BetaNews report, some users of the Linksys EA4500, EA3500, and EA2700 routers reportedly received a firmware update without their approval, and they were forced to sign up for a Connect Cloud account to access their router at all.

“Users who did not want to submit any network information to the cloud, and manage their network locally were met with a completely different interface from the one they were accustomed to,” the report said.

But according to Wingo, when a customer signs up for a Cisco Connect Cloud account, personal information was being used only for establishing an account in order to provide customer support – but there was obviously a glitch.

“Consistent with Cisco’s practices, Cisco Connect Cloud does not actively track, collect or store personal info or usage data for any other purposes, nor is it transmitted to third parties,” Wingo said.

He went on to clear up confusion about Cisco’s “opt in” practices, noting that Cisco Connect Cloud was “delivered only to consumers who opted in to automatic updates,” but acknowledged that in the opt-out process was not made clear.

“We apologize that the opt-out process for Cisco Connect Cloud and automatic updates was not more clear in this product release, and we are developing an updated version that will improve this process,” he said.

In addition to Cloud Connect, Cisco last week also unveiled a set of mobile apps from third party developers that provide extended experiences to Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers. There are six new developer apps including an app that lets people search and “beam” online videos to a Smart TV or AirPlay compatible device; an app that helps install home monitoring cameras and enables monitoring at home and on the go; and apps that give parents easy ways to keep their children safe online.

Cisco also announced the availability of its Cisco Connect Cloud mobile app which provides access to Cisco Connect Cloud on a smartphone or tablet. By using the SimpleTap feature, consumers can connect devices to their Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router with a tap of a button or with a quick swipe or scan of a device or tag.

“We are changing the game when it comes to the connected home by ushering in a whole new level of experiences, simplicity and convenience,” Wingo said in a company statement. “The next-generation connected home is being brought to life for our customers with Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers, Cisco Connect Cloud, apps and our partnerships across the industry.”

To find out more about David Tucker, Vice President and General Manager Small Business Business Unit (SBBU), and Cisco, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2012. To be held Oct. 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Tucker will be a keynote speaker at the event. For more information on ITEXPO West 2012 click here.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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