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December 1, 2010

Dotzler calls for MS, Apple and Google to stop stealth plug-ins

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by Darren Allan

Asa Dotzler, the Co-Founder of the Spread Firefox marketing portal, has been criticising the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google for installing plug-ins without asking permission first.

In a blog post (initially spotted by the Register), he complained strongly about unwanted plug-ins being dumped into his Firefox browser without any request pertaining to the installation.

He wrote: “When I installed iTunes, in order to manage my music collection and sync to my iPod, why did Apple think it was OK to add the iTunes Application Detector plug-in to my Firefox web browser without asking me?”

He then cited Microsoft sneaking Windows Live Photo Gallery or Office Live plug-ins into Firefox, and Google slipping in a Google Update plug-in without asking first. Dotzler then goes on to compare this behaviour to a trojan, because while these plug-ins aren’t malicious, they are slipped onto your system in a sneaky manner.

He concludes: “Google, Microsoft, Apple, RockMelt, and any others out there who are doing this, I’m calling on you to stop this now. If you want to add software to my system, ask me. Sneaking software onto my system that I didn’t ask for is evil (precisely in the Google ‘don’t be evil’ sense.)”

And quite right too. A user should know about anything that’s being installed on their machine, no matter how big, trustworthy and not-evil the company in question is.

Story link: Dotzler calls for MS, Apple and Google to stop stealth plug-ins


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3 Comments »
  1. Agreed and thats what put me off Google chrome. Startup program? Did i give you permission for that Google - NO!

    Comment by Shadow — December 2, 2010 @ 3:23 am

  2. How about…

    Firefox has an encrypted config file which lists plugins which the user has explicitly approved, and only loads those plugins at startup.

    Problem solved (although obviously this doesn’t address the wider problem - stealth installation of extras in general)

    Comment by Rob — December 2, 2010 @ 3:32 am

  3. Dotzler really?

    One problem with your theory of “trojan like” behaviour. If you begin to install any of these products you have to click “I agree” to the terms and conditions. If you can’t be bothered to read it (does anyone?) then it’s yr own damn fault!

    Plus it’s not exactly difficult to disable these plugins in Firefox.

    I wish these guys would quit bashing each other and work together to improve products. It just reminds me of the school playground.

    Comment by Martyn M — December 2, 2010 @ 10:45 am

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