EFF: HP Should Reverse Software Update, Actually Tell Customers About Planned Limitations

Image courtesy of frankieleon

When you buy a toaster, you do so with the assumption that the toaster company won’t go in a few years from now and make it so your favorite brand of bread made by a different company is incompatible with the toaster you’ve purchased. In a letter to printer-maker HP, the Electronic Frontier Foundation laid out exactly how terrible an idea it was for the company to ban third-party ink cartridges as part of a software update.

On behalf of the nonprofit, which advocates for users’ freedom and privacy in our digital lives, Cory Doctorow laid out several objections to the limitations on HP products, which include:

Anti-Competition

When customers bought their printers, they were able to choose any ink cartridges that they liked. If they found that HP ink produced the best results and was worth the price, then they would go out and buy HP ink and nothing else.

The update made it so they no longer had a choice: until a vendor finds a workaround, they don’t have the choice to buy other ink. Even if HP is better, that should be their choice.

Misleading

The letter to HP refers to pushing the update as “bait and switch,” which isn’t actually what that term means, but it’s definitely true that the company abused its capability to push out updates on printers to correct what could be serious flaws, problems with new operating systems and other software released after the printer is sold, and security updates. Pushing an update that makes the device less useful shouldn’t be a thing.

The letter asks that HP reverse its software update, apologize to users affected by the change, and pledge to disclose pre-existing or planned software changes that would lock out third-party products from its printers.

What HP Must Do to Make Amends for Its Self-Destructing Printers [EFF] (via Ars Technica)