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Mozilla rages at MS, Apple and Google's 'trojan horse' tactics

Shove your plug-ins where the sun don't shine

Application security programs and practises

A well-respected Mozilla man has attacked Apple, Google and Microsoft for installing plug-ins without first asking for a web surfer’s permission.

Open web advocate Asa Dotzler, who co-founded the Spread Firefox project for the open source browser outfit in 2004, slammed the three tech titans for making sneaky installs of plug-ins into the popular surfing tool.

He complained that Microsoft, Google and Apple were all guilty of adding stealth plug-ins to Firefox when he installed various bits of their software.

“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 pondered on his blog yesterday.

“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?”

Dotzler then likened the behaviour of those vendors to setting off unauthorised malware on his computer.

“This is not OK behaviour… These additional pieces of software installed without my consent may not be malicious but the means by which they were installed was sneaky, underhanded, and wrong.”

The Mozilla man, who is the organisation's director of community development, also pinpointed new browser kid-on-the-block RockMelt as a stealth plug-in offender.

“Microsoft, stop being evil. Apple, stop being evil. Google, stop being evil. And you upstarts like RockMelt, don't follow in those evil footsteps. It's not worth it,” he said before signing off with: “It's really simple. ASK first!”

Nearly a year ago Dotzler encouraged Firefox users to switch their search engine from Google to Microsoft Bing in the wake of Eric Schmidt's now infamous words on net privacy. ®

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