That is INSANE! Seriously, there has to be more to the story. FFS, this is Cory Doctorow writing the article, there has to be a catch. A company like Cisco couldn't think they'd get away with something like this, right? There's no disclaimer anywhere on the packaging: "Warning: all your crap belong us. Now, biatch."
Edit: I went through the post and comments and nope, Cory's playing this one straight. Cisco is out to screw their customers. I own at least one router from each of the major manufacturers. Most already have DD-WRT or some other firmware installed. I won't shy away from buying Cisco routers but I will make certain to purchase models that can be upgraded with Open-WRT, DD-WRT or some other such worthwhile firmware.