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Vodafone moves 360 goalposts

Operator locks customers into software by changing T&Cs

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After being forced to allow customers to remove 360 branding and applications by its own terms and conditions, Vodafone has responded by tearing up the offending rules.

The old rules are still in place until 12 November, so until then Vodafone is still bound by the agreement that states users can "remove both the Service and any applications downloaded via the Service at any time", but within a month the operator will be under no such obligation.

Vodafone 360 is the operator's venture into identity aggregation and service consolidation - combining a social identity that scrapes content from Facebook and its ilk with online shopping for applications and multimedia. Vodafone 360 was supposed to have dedicated handsets, based on the LiMo platform, but those have been dropped in favour of a software incarnation.

That software comes pre-installed, or gets pushed out to customers as owners of the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S recently discovered when they downloaded what they thought were firmware updates but actually comprised Vodafone 360 branding and applications that couldn't be removed without considerable effort.

That prompted a customer rebellion, which led to the next Desire update automatically removing the Vodafone 360 applications and branding. Galaxy S users are still waiting to see if they're offered the same option, though Vodafone's decision to change its terms and conditions bodes badly.

The changes also remove the ability for customers to opt out of recommendations for new applications, though we're not clear how many users bothered to send the specially-formatted email required to do that, or if those who did will remain opted out under the new T&Cs.

The new terms and conditions claim to have been in place since 15 September, apparently in conjunction with the old ones which (according to the published details) continue to be in force for another few weeks - so if you're hoping to exercise your right to remove the Vodafone 360 service from your handset then you'll need to so so quickly, before the option disappears forever.

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