Ever since Cisco (CSCO) entered the consumer market by buying Linksys, nearly a decade ago now, it has been subject to case-after-case of the stupids.
One of my earlier stories at ZDNet Open Source "back in the day" involved such a case. Linksys released a router under a GPL version of Linux but refused to open the code, until it was sued through GPLViolations.org.
Now it has been caught again, trying to force its cloud service on Linksys buyers, including Terms of Service that forced people to buy its Cloud Connect service and let Cisco control where they went online.
This did not happen until Cloud Connect went live last month, meaning many people who bought their Linksys routers before that date suddenly found themselves facing these corporate demands, which include the "right" to collect and use their own web histories.
Now, in Cisco's defense, router makers have been trying to work with major ISPs for years to deliver "services" along with routers that were "family friendly" and easy to use. I worked on one such effort during the last decade. But none of those efforts went anywhere, mainly because the phone companies and cable operators lacked the brand credibility to make the offer, and didn't want to risk customer relationships in any case.
Cisco Cloud basically delivers this "value," through Cisco rather than through the ISP.
Cisco has spent the last two weeks backpedaling furiously. Its latest apology insists Linksys customers don't have to use Cloud Connect, can manage their routers without it, will not disconnect users for TOS violations, adding that it's only collecting Web addresses to support the Cloud Connect service.
For families who want to control what their kids do online (and one another) Cisco Connect is a free version of something that was previously an up-sell. But Internet history indicates that most customers don't want this up-sell, and forcing it is a losing proposition.
This is yet another example, if such were needed, that Cisco is much better off focusing on the business market than anything that goes to consumers. It's bearish for the brand, and bearish for the stock. I sold out my own position in Cisco a few years ago, after seeing its value fall by more than half and refuse to get up.
It's not getting up now, either.