ACLU Says Android Fragmentation Causes Privacy Risk for Users

ACLU Says Android Fragmentation Causes Privacy Risk for Users

Slow updates for smartphones using the Google Android operating system create a security risk for owners of those phones according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Google Android


The ACLU has asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to look into the policies of U.S. wireless carriers, who the ACLU says are too slow to upgrade the operating systems of the Android phones they support. The ACLU, reports, says that the lag in software updates leaves smartphone users with out of date and dangerous systems.

In a 17-page complaint filed this week, the group named AT&T, Sprint, Nextel, T-Mobile, and Verizon among the carriers that they say have ignored the warnings of experts and government officials, which has led to giving hackers an opening to steal data. The complaint charges that the carriers are exposing their customers to “substantial harm” by not releasing software updates quickly enough.

Google makes the Android operating system available free to phone and device makers who wish to use it, and works with them to ensure devices can support updated versions. Once updates are ready for individual devices, they then need to be pushed out to the various carriers, who then test them to ensure compatibility with their networks.

The ACLU’s filing notes that only two percent of the Android handsets on the market today are running the most recent version of Android. The majority of the hundreds of millions of handsets running the OS run a version released in the last two years, but almost half run a version of the software that is older than that.