07 Nov 2012

Android Rooting Does Not Void Warranty in EU, But Opens New Ways for Malware


The legality of rooting and jail-breaking has been one of the most debated topics in the smartphone industry. With iOS, the US Congress has made it extremely clear that smartphones can be legally jail-broken, the legality of a similar operation on Android is still challenged by vendors when dealing with warranty issues.

The legal team at the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) explained in a blog post that rooting your device and flashing different firmware onto it would NOT void the manufacturer warranty, provided that the defect was not caused by software (for instance, a fried chip or failing display can’t be pinned on running a different operating system).

“Unless the seller can prove that modifying the software, rooting your device or flashing it with some other OS or firmware was the cause for the defect, you are still covered for defects during those 2 years,” reads the post. “A good test to see if it is the software’s fault is to flash it back with stock firmware/OS and see if the problem persists. If it does, it is not a software-caused problem. If it is not possible to revert it stock software any more, it is also not a software-caused defect.”

There’s still one thing that should prompt the user not to take rooting lightly though: malware. Consumer-grade mobile phones running Android have some enforced limitations that prevent one application from running outside its security container and possibly causing trouble.

By rooting the device, applications can elevate their privileges and make changes that could affect the overall security of the phone or tablet. Users who need to root their devices are advised to install a mobile security solution to mitigate risks of a malicious application getting system-wide privileges.