Update, January 20: Samsung Benelux put out an official statement on the law suit brought on by Consumentenbond (via SamMobile):
“At Samsung, we understand that our success depends on consumers’ trust in us, and the products and services that we provide. That is why we have made a number of commitments in recent months to better inform consumers about the status of security issues, and the measures we are taking to address those issues. Data security is a top priority and we work hard every day to ensure that the devices we sell and the information contained on those devices are is safeguarded.”
Original post, January 19: Android is wildly successful, but its massive market share has come at a cost – a broken update model. The problem of Android updates, or lack of thereof, is especially thorny because it’s not very clear who exactly is responsible for ensuring that a particular Android device is up to date. While Google, OEMs, and carriers loosely share the responsibility of keeping devices patched up, a consumer protection group in the Netherlands thinks the OEM in particular should be held to task.
Consumentenbond, an influential non-profit organization looking after the interests of consumers in the Netherlands, is taking Samsung to court over its failure to provide updates in a timely manner.
In a press release, the group says it reached out to Samsung on December 2, but in the absence of a proper response, it “issued injunctive relief proceedings against” the Korean giant.
Updates for two years from the date of purchase.
Consumentenbond considers Samsung is guilty of unfair trade practices, as consumers are not informed upon purchase how long they will receive software updates. The group demands “clear and unambiguous information” on updates and security patches, and wants Samsung to actually release updates for at least two years from the date of purchase.
Consumentenbond says 82% of the Samsung phones it checked were not updated within two years of their introduction. All manufacturers should be held to this high standard, according to the consumer watchdog, which noted that Samsung is the “undisputed leader” of the Dutch phone market.
This last demand seems rather hard to put in practice. Consumentenbond wants Samsung to support every device it sells for two years, regardless of how old it is. In practice, that would force Samsung to ensure updates for four years or even more.
Without doubt, consumers would benefit from an extensive upgrade policy. Security and privacy in particular would be greatly improved. On the other hand, Samsung could argue that the burden is unfair. Assuming legislation or court orders would ever impose such a policy, Samsung could be forced to greatly reduce the number of phones it puts out, while the cost of ensuring long-term support could make devices more expensive.
If this legal action is successful, it could set a precedent across the European Union, where consumer rights are taken very seriously. As an example, Google was forced to implement the “right to be forgotten” across the EU, after the complaint of a Spanish citizen was deferred by Spanish courts to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Do you think manufacturers should be legally forced to ensure updates for two years from purchase?