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Dutch court rules Samsung can legally neglect to update your smartphone

The ruling in the Dutch court case against Samsung's smartphone update practices falls on the opposite side of consumer interests.

Published onMay 31, 2018

Samsung Logo from CES FirstLook 2018-4
  • A Dutch court case against Samsung ended with Samsung the victor.
  • The case was over Samsung’s spotty history of updating its smartphones with the latest security patches.
  • The judge in the case ruled that Samsung is under no legal obligation to update its smartphones.

A Dutch court today ruled in favor of Samsung when it comes to issuing smartphone updates. Samsung – the defendant in the trial – was accused by a consumer advocacy group of neglecting to keep the software of Samsung smartphones up-to-date for a reasonable length of time.

The ruling, via The BBC, gives Samsung free reign to neglect issuing security updates to its smartphones without any legal penalty.

The Dutch trial has been running for over two years now, with the famous consumer advocacy group Consumentenbond pushing to force Samsung into keeping all of its smartphones up-to-date with security patches for a full two years after the device is sold. The loss of this case is a disappointing outcome globally for consumer rights advocates.

Samsung taken to court over its lack of Android updates
The Samsung logo.

Samsung defended its update practices during the trial, claiming that all smartphones sold in the Netherlands receive software updates for two years after the device first goes on sale. However, Consumentenbond pointed to numerous instances where that was not the case and said the company should be required to issue updates for two years after the sale date of the device, not the general launch date.

The judge in the trial ruled in Samsung’s favor and said that Consumentenbond’s claims were “inadmissible” because they related to “future acts.” The judge’s reasoning was that there could be situations in the future that would prevent Samsung from updating its devices, like say a software bug or virus. If Samsung is unable to issue updates because of this flaw, it would be inappropriate to penalize them for noncompliance.

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Consumentenbond – quick to call foul – compared Samsung to an automobile company. In a statement after the trial, the organization said, “An automobile manufacturer must also ensure that all its models are safe and reliable and remain so. Samsung has the same obligation.” It also added, “Samsung chooses to bring so many models to the market, there is no-one who forces them to do so.”

However, Consumentenbond did see a silver lining to the verdict. It said, “During the legal procedure, Samsung has taken steps to provide consumers with better information.” That’s certainly positive, but it’s hard to get too excited when this judge just gave Samsung the legal ability to stop updating its smartphones whenever it chooses.

NEXT: Essential confirms 2 years of updates, 3 years of security patches for PH-1

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