Mozilla's Dotzler rants on 'sneaky' plug-ins: Read your EULAs

Mozilla's Asa Dotzler ranted about evil plug-ins from the likes of Google, Microsoft and Apple and said that trio of vendors should ask for permission before adding extensions to Firefox. He's right, but you also need to read your license agreements.

Mozilla's Asa Dotzler ranted about evil plug-ins from the likes of Google, Microsoft and Apple and said that trio of vendors should ask for permission before adding extensions to Firefox.

In a blog post Dotzler wrote:

Why do Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others think that it is an OK practice to add plug-ins to Firefox when I'm installing their software packages. 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? Why did Microsoft think it was OK to sneak their Windows Live Photo Gallery or Office Live Plug-in for Firefox into my browser (presumably) when I installed Microsoft Office? What makes Google think it's reasonable behavior for them to slip a Google Update plug-in into Firefox when I installed Google Earth or Google Chrome (not sure which one caused this) without asking me first?

This long-standing issue---adding applications as part of an end user license agreement---is "sneaky, underhanded, and wrong."

Dotzler has a point---to a degree. The other responsibility falls to the end user. Google says in its Chrome and Earth license agreement that it will include Google Update as an extension for Firefox. By clicking that little EULA box you're giving the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Google permission.

The Chrome Eula says:

11. Software updates

11.1 The Software which you use may automatically download and install updates from time to time from Google. These updates are designed to improve, enhance and further develop the Services and may take the form of bug fixes, enhanced functions, new software modules and completely new versions. You agree to receive such updates (and permit Google to deliver these to you) as part of your use of the Services.

I couldn't find the passages relating to Microsoft and Apple's EULAs and plug-ins, but there's most likely fine print somewhere the user agreed to. The reality here is that no one reads the EULAs (including me). On that front, Dotzler is arguing that there should be one more layer of permission before adding an extension to Firefox. These EULAs are like bills on Capitol Hill where there are all these earmarks and fine print that no one notices---until something goes bad.

What are your thoughts?

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