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Nokia snaffles user data on the down-low

Both N900 owners in uproar

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Users of Nokia's N900 tablet are outraged at the news that the latest OS update automatically collects details and signs them up to services, without the option to opt out or cancel.

The initiation into the MyNokia service comes at the end of the installation of the latest update – PR1.2. Once the user has downloaded and installed the update they get presented with a dialogue asking them to sign up, but notably that dialogue lacks a "no thanks" option.

"To get the most out of your Nokia you will receive free tips & support messages. By continuing, you accept Nokia's terms" it says. This sounds fine until one realises that the only buttons are "Terms and Conditions" and "Done", as shown in a forum posting on the issue, with the latter button triggering the controversial SMS message.

The N900 doesn't have an enormous user base, but they are very vocal in their annoyance and the forums are rife with (largely ill-informed) threats of legal action as users accuse Nokia of breaching all sorts of laws and regulations.

SMSs aren't expensive to send - one user reportedly got charged $1 as he was abroad at the time - but it's the principle of the thing that has users so wound up. There's no problem asking customers to comply with new terms and conditions, and even signing them up to a service is OK, but refusing to let them back out is harsh (bear in mind that this is at the end of installation, so there's no reasonable way out at this point).

Nokia can't see why anyone wouldn't want to sign up to MyNokia: "We believe that these support messages are for the benefit of the consumer and help those consumers who are not yet fully aware of the possibilities their devices offer to make the most out of their purchase" the company told Maemo.org, pointing out that the terms and conditions do mention the cost of the SMS.

This is a minor tiff about an upgrade to a niche platform, and users who care simply opt out of MyNokia immediately afterwards. But we can't help wondering if that wasn't just the point – to push a little and see if the users squeal before making the same thing standard in MeeGo. Nokia has long sought a direct relationship with its customers, and this is one more way to attain just that. ®

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