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FTC should halt sales of malware-infected Android TV boxes, says EFF

01 Dec 2023 | Rasmus Larsen |

The escalating case of Chinese Android-based TV boxes that come pre-loaded with malware calls for the involvement of the Federal Trade Commission, says the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

FlatpanelsHD and others have previously covered the case of the numerous malware-infected boxes built on open-source Android (AOSP) and produced by Chinese companies such as AllWinner and RockChip, but the products are still sold by resellers such as Amazon and AliExpress.

The problem has been revealed to be far more widespread than first thought, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, urges the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action and halt sales to protect consumers.

- "We believe that the sale of these devices presents a clear instance of deceptive conduct: the devices are advertised without disclosure of the harms they present. They also expose the buyers to an unfair risk which starts after simply powering the device on and connecting it to the internet," EFF wrote in the letter to the FTC.

- "Here, where products are sold containing real malware at the point of sale, issuing sanctions to the resellers will provide a powerful incentive for them to pull these products from the market and protect their customers."

"Essence of consumer protection"

The EFF's letter has also been sent to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly. - "This is the very essence of consumer protection: ensuring that the products we bring into our homes aren't preset to be hijacked for malicious purposes," said EFF Senior Staff Technologist William Budington. "We urge the Federal Trade Commission to take swift action." Security researchers have previously urged consumers who own one of the affected Chinese Android TV boxes to throw it out. The full letter can be found here.

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