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Why Tech Companies Are Not Your Friends

The New York Times – Lessons From Roku [unpaywalled]- “Roku recently changed its policy to make it even harder for customers to take legal action. It’s a reminder of how we need to protect ourselves….In reality, the tech products we buy can evolve to keep protecting those interests — and the hoops we have to jump through to gain some control are often impractical. Here’s a reminder of what to remember. We don’t really own our tech products. More than a decade ago, when we bought a TV it was just that — a big screen that let you plug into it whatever you wanted. Nowadays, the vast majority of TVs connect to the internet and run the manufacturer’s operating system and apps. Even though you bought the TV, the software component, a major part of what makes the product work, remains controlled by the company…Changes to the product’s software interface and data collection practices can happen at any moment. In extreme examples, a device can stop working. In 2020, for instance, Amazon deactivated the Echo Look, a camera that helped people organize their wardrobes. It issued a promotional credit for owners to buy a different Amazon gadget that lacked similar features.The less extreme, more common situation is when companies stop supporting older products because they need to sell new gadgets. Apple’s original Apple Watch from 2015, for example, no longer gets software updates and now barely works…”

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