Connect Cloud provides a service that is intended to make it easier for customers to manage their network , routers, and devices on the network. But when Connect was launched, the company also updated its new LinkSys Smart WiFi routers -- and then the problems began.
Signup, Privacy Issues
The routers, released several months ago, have already sold more than a half-million units. The update automatically connected the Smart WiFi routers to Connect Cloud, but it also meant that customers could no longer use their existing passwords to log in. Instead, the updated system requested a signup for Connect Cloud.
Concurrently, questions were raised about a privacy clause in the agreement for Connect Cloud. The offending language said that the company "may collect and store detailed information regarding your network configuration and usage for the purpose of providing you technical support."
It also said that the company might share "aggregated and anonymous user experience information" with third parties, such as Internet service providers, and that the data would only be associated with a user when the user provides an ID number to the company.
In a posting last week on the Cisco corporate blog, Brett Wingo, vice president and general manager of the company's Home Networking unit, wrote that "privacy and security are at the core of everything we do." He noted that Connect Cloud "does not actively track, collect or store personal info or usage data" for any purposes other than to "establish an account in order to provide customer support."
Wingo also said Connect Cloud was only delivered to users who opted in for automatic updates.
"We apologize that the opt-out process for Cisco Connect Cloud and automatic updates was not more clear in this product release," he said, adding that a coming update will improve the opt-out process.