T-Mobile G2 includes a “malicious rootkit”

Yesterday, some T-Mobile stores began selling its newest mobile device, the G2, an Android-based smart phone originally slated for an October 6 release while AT&T is slated to release it later in the year. This device truly is representative of the next generation of mobile devices… Unfortunately, the G2 also comes with built-in hardware that restricts what software a device owner might wish to install.

“Malicious rootkit.” Say that ten times fast.

But seriously, New America Foundation has exposed a major, unacceptable problem with T-Mobile’s new G2 Android phone, which has otherwise been lauded as a great device.

It seems that if users root this phone — if they hack it to gain “root” access so they can install modified software — a little birdie phones home and allows the network provider to override the modification and reinstall the original software.

As NAF points out, this is akin to Microsoft disliking the modifications you’re making to your computer, and remotely reinstalling Windows.

Most rooters know, or at least assume, that the modifications they’re making void the warranty of their phone. But they do it anyway, because rooting is fun and it can be truly useful.

Consumers are already paying $200 plus a two-year contract for this phone. Shouldn’t they be able to modify it without Big Brother wiping it from his remote hideout in Corporateland?

New America suggests this action should be illegal. I’m not sure about that, but it’s terribly anti-consumer and disgraceful to the open ethos of the Android project.

Congress and the FCC have both started to look more closely at the wireless industry’s myriad bad practices. This one is just asking for a closer look.

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