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Thread: Activist Puts Wireless Carriers On Notice to Provide Regular Android Security Updates

  1. Editor in Chief
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    Activist Puts Wireless Carriers On Notice to Provide Regular Android Security Updates


    For some people, the adage, "If it's to be, it's up to me," is a way of life as well as a great philosophy. You can probably lump activist, Chris Soghoian, into that category. Many of us here across the Android community complain about how frustrating it is that the wireless carriers take too long to provide regular updates to the Android OS. Mr. Soghoian, who also happens to be the principal technologies and senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, has chosen to actually do something about it. There's a new post over on Slashdot detailing his new campaign in which he "puts the wireless carriers on notice." Here's a quote with some additional detail,

    "Activist Chris Soghoian, who in the past has targeted zero-day brokers with his work, has turned his attention toward wireless carriers and their reluctance to provide regular device updates to Android mobile devices. The lack of updates leaves millions of Android users sometimes upwards of two revs behind in not only feature updates, but patches for security vulnerabilities. 'With Android, the situation is worse than a joke, it’s a crisis,' said Soghoian, principal technologies and senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. 'With Android, you get updates when the carrier and hardware manufacturers want them to go out. Usually, that’s not often because the hardware vendor has thin [profit] margins. Whenever Google updates Android, engineers have to modify it for each phone, chip, radio card that relies on the OS. Hardware vendors must make a unique version for each device and they have scarce resources. Engineers are usually focused on the current version, and devices that are coming out in the next year.'"
    It's great to see that someone with some clout is finally putting pressure on the carriers to get their act together. We will obviously be keeping an eye on this to see if any headway is made. Sound off with your point of view.

    Thanks to our tipster!

    Source: Slashdot
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    Then root your phone and ROM it. I'm sorry, though it sucks how long carriers take...it is completely up to them to even provide updates. It drives me insane but lets face it, the vast majority of users don't care or even know about updates. They don't know what ICS or JB means let alone what KLP means.
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    #3
    While I agree a little with you, since I've been on JB since two days after it was announced. The carriers are the problem when it comes to the dreaded "fragmentation" of android.
    And I put it on quotes because it has been proven that a Galaxy S running GB has the same features that the iPhone 5. But the general public relies on carriers for the updates.
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    Speaking of the carriers being the problem, it seems unrealistic for the general consumer to be expected to put a new ROM on their device. While all of us in the forums know how easy and fun it can be, the average customer, should be supported better than they are from the carriers with at least regular security updates.
    cobravnm13 likes this.
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by dgstorm View Post
    Speaking of the carriers being the problem, it seems unrealistic for the general consumer to be expected to put a new ROM on their device. While all of us in the forums know how easy and fun it can be, the average customer, should be supported better than they are from the carriers with at least regular security updates.
    Well said sir,that's why Ive just promoted you too Editor in Chief.You can thank me later.
    dgstorm likes this.
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    #6
    While I do hate how horrible Verizon is about pushing updates out it's not always their fault... Sometimes the manufacturers put out devices they never intend to update or put out so many there's no possible way to update them all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnomaz View Post
    Then root your phone and ROM it. I'm sorry, though it sucks how long carriers take...it is completely up to them to even provide updates. It drives me insane but lets face it, the vast majority of users don't care or even know about updates. They don't know what ICS or JB means let alone what KLP means.
    that's not the answer and you are giving an "out" for the carriers which is crazy in my opinion...

    1. ROMing voids warranties, why would that be a realistic approach to security for people like our parents?! they have no clue how to do that, nor do they want to incur the abnormalities that come along with that...so no, ROMs are not the answer
    2. It may be "up to the carries" but take a step back and apply that logic to Microsoft or Apple or Oracle or anybody else that is BIG in their respective business. If they don't patch a security vuln people don't say "meh, it's their choice, it's cool". They have an obligation to PAYING customers to ensure their software/hardware is stable and secure. Carries make NO money on providing updates, that's why they don't do it. All of the other big names do it because they DO make money off of it. It's called support contracts. It's purely about money, nothing else. If they could sell update subscriptions to phone subscribers they would do it in a heart beat!
    3. Most users may not understand or know about "updates" as you put it, but ask them if they care about their devices having feature X or feature Y or, more importantly, ask them if they care about their phones being secure/safe from common exploits/attacks/etc. You better believe that anyone with 1/3 of a brain would say "YES".

    I am glad someone with some clout is saying what this community has been saying for years. I may not be a huge apple supporter, but I do admire the work that apple puts into the OS and the long line of updates that they provide their users over the years. As another user mentioned, the fragmentation is a huge issue. But if the carriers are (eventually) forced to provide updates, say, within 6 months of a known vuln, they will quickly realize that they can't sell 187 different (and mostly JUNK) android phones OR maybe they will provide a more open development platform and have the hardware vendors handle the updates OR maybe they will migrate to a model where they support the phone but don't support the software (ie no bloat and carrier agnostic devices become more the norm and leave the software updates to the vendors/google! *gasp*)
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    Quote Originally Posted by androidlearner View Post
    While I do hate how horrible Verizon is about pushing updates out it's not always their fault... Sometimes the manufacturers put out devices they never intend to update or put out so many there's no possible way to update them all.
    it's the carriers choice to sell or not sell a phone on their network. if they are held responsible, they will start reducing the number of phones and/or start requiring the vendors to provide timely updates in their contracts. it is really that simple. fragmentation is purely to blame on the carriers. i can't fault a vendor for making 1000 different phones in the hopes of selling them in different markets around the world to maximize profits. until they are required (by law or by contract) to provide updates, that won't change. as soon as you make verizon/att/sprint responsible for the products that they _choose_ to sell, things will change. they won't take the cash-flow hit, they will pass it on to the vendor in the form of contract agreements for updates, etc. the only thing I fear is inflated prices due to something like this. but i bet we would all be willing to pay 20-50 more for a phone that actually stays current, longer...that's the beef with most of us. we pay hundreds of dollars for a phone that gets left in the dust after 3 months with no support.
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    #9
    No matter who says what, cash is king. As long as cash keeps flowing in from sales of devices and the data network things will not change.
    IPhone has no bloatware yet isn't a top seller on any carrier anymore (there was a recent article on this forum with specifics),even when head to head by model. Because Apple is starting to lose some of its mountain of cash (still a huge mountain though) we may see something different from them next year but overall the average consumer seems to be ok with skinned Android and until sales models show any different that won't change.

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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by jerkwad View Post
    2. It may be "up to the carries" but take a step back and apply that logic to Microsoft or Apple or Oracle or anybody else that is BIG in their respective business. If they don't patch a security vuln people don't say "meh, it's their choice, it's cool". They have an obligation to PAYING customers to ensure their software/hardware is stable and secure. Carries make NO money on providing updates, that's why they don't do it. All of the other big names do it because they DO make money off of it. It's called support contracts. It's purely about money, nothing else. If they could sell update subscriptions to phone subscribers they would do it in a heart beat!

    I'm not sure that we don't already pay for support. Admittedly, crappy support....but support.

    If you have a problem with your service/bill you can go into a store and talk to a rep or call someone and get it sorted out. Don't remember the last time I paid for that...if ever.

    If you have a issue with your phone, and it's under warranty, you can go into the store and have someone do a factory restore. Their troubleshooting skills are poor(granted)....but technically it is support....and they did not charge you for it because you are a subscriber.

    It may not be detailed in the bill as "support", but somewhere in there we are paying for the call center/store reps.
    Last edited by jntdroid; 02-06-2013 at 05:46 PM.
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