A DUTCH COURT has ruled that Samsung has no obligation to keep the software on its Android smartphones up-to-date.
The South Korean phonemaker was taken to court by Dutch consumer rights group Consumentenbond, which had argued that the company should update its phones for at least four years after they go on sale, or for at least two years after the sale date of the device.
It also wrangled that Samsung should provide the patches within three months of them becoming available, arguing that the firm was leaving users unprotected from security risks by not providing patches for its phones in a "timely" fashion.
Samsung, which is no stranger to court, defended its update practices during the trial, claiming that all smartphones sold in the Netherlands receive software updates for two years after the device first goes on sale.
Consumentenbond retaliated, arguing that some older Samsung devices didn't receive any updates at all. It added that the company should be required to issue updates for two years after the sale date of the device, not the general launch date.
The court at The Hague didn't agree. In a decision announced this week, it said the Consumentenbond's claims were inadmissible because they "relate to the future actions of Samsung," and those future actions and the company's circumstances were "still unknown".
For example, if a severe bug came to light in the future, Samsung might choose to update all its previous handsets. And on the other hand, the firm may not be able to update the software due to the nature of the bug and the limitations of older phone hardware.
As a result, "nothing can be decided on the nature and severity of any future security risks and the future actions of Samsung", the court ruled.
Samsung, unsurprisingly, is satisfied with the ruling, saying in a statement: "The judge has acknowledged that Samsung is doing more than enough to ensure the safety of its products.
"It is a pity that the court route taken by the Consumentenbond has unjustly cast our update policy in a negative light, as the ruling shows that we take the security of the smartphones we provide to consumers very seriously."
Consumentenbond ain't quite so pleased. In response to the Hague's decision, the consumer association said: "Samsung chooses to bring so many models to the market, there is no-one who forces them to do so. An automobile manufacturer must also ensure that all its models are safe and reliable and remain so. Samsung has the same obligation."
However, Consumentenbond did see a silver lining to the verdict, noting: "During the legal procedure, Samsung has taken steps to provide consumers with better information." µ
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