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ACLU Says Wireless Carriers Fail to Protect Consumers' Data

By Tim Brugger - Apr 17, 2013 at 3:51PM

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At issue in the complaint filed with the FTC are alleged security risks of Android smartphones sold by major wireless carriers.

Several large wireless carriers in the U.S., including AT&T (T -0.14%), Verizon (VZ 0.80%), Sprint (S) and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA, are targets of a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union with the Federal Trade Commission.

The ACLU claims the wireless carriers, specifically those selling smartphones using Google's (GOOGL 4.20%) Android OS, engaged in "unfair and deceptive business practices" by not alerting customers to "known, unpatched security flaws in the [Android] mobile devices sold by the companies," according to a statement the ACLU posted today.

The complaint acknowledges that Google issues Android OS "patches" to fix security issues with the operating system as they arise. However, according to the FTC filing, the fixes are not packaged and pushed out to consumers as they are with PCs, so many smartphone owners are unaware they have a security issue, leaving personal data at risk.

The complaint asks that wireless carriers be mandated by the FTC to alert smartphone users of data security updates, and make them readily available and easy to download. Or, at the least, provide customers with device refunds and allow them to terminate existing data plans so they can opt for a carrier that will provide security fixes.

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Stocks Mentioned

AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
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$21.29 (-0.14%) $0.03
Sprint Corporation Stock Quote
Sprint Corporation
S
Verizon Communications Inc. Stock Quote
Verizon Communications Inc.
VZ
$51.40 (0.80%) $0.41
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