Mozilla to Apple, Google, Microsoft: Stop Being Evil

Mozilla’s community coordinator, Asa Dotzler, has a message for Apple, Google, and Microsoft (and any “upstarts” who might fancy following in their footsteps: Stop being evil. In a blog post, Mr. Dotzler said that all three companies are installing additional plugins into Firefox without permission with other software. He likens the practice to trojan horse malware, and calls on it to end.

“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,” Mr. Dotzler asked. “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 added, “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?”

Asa Dotzler

Mozilla Community Coordinator Asa Dotzler
Photo: Roland Tanglao through Wikipedia

Mr. Dotzler made the case that software companies should simply ask if it’s OK to install a browser plugin, and that not doing so is simply wrong.

“In my book,” he wrote, “that fits the definition of a trojan horse. Yes, that is precisely how a trojan horse operates. 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.”

He also acknowledged that Mozilla and the Firefox development team should do more to stop it from happening in the first place, but he also argued that they shouldn’t have to worry about what big companies, “trustworthy software vendors,” are doing.

Evoking Google’s mantra of “Don’t Be Evil,” Mr. Dotzler closed his post with: “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.”

“It’s really simple,” he said. “ASK first!”