Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Do no evil?

In case you've been on Mars for the last couple of days: Google has released a new browser, called Chrome. And as you might expect, the user interface is clean and it's stonkingly fast. Quite stunningly so, in fact. But all is not well. If you follow the second link to the comments, you will read the following:

I have AVG Internet Security installed, and I don't give blanket internet permission to anything new, I let the firewall ask me for a while so I can get a feel for what is going on. Ever since installed Chrome, I have periodically gotten a request from the "Google Installer" to connect to some IP address, even when I don't have Chrome running! Why in the world is it running something like that in the background all the time, independent of Chrome, what is it trying to do, and how do I stop it?


As I was writing the above, I realized that I was really not at all comfortable with what Chrome (or Google itself) was doing on my laptop, so I uninstalled it. As is typical when removing something from Google, it popped up a browser window asking for feedback about why I was doing such a thing. I told them, and pressed send. It replied that they would investigate, and they would contact me if they needed more information. Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, or perhaps I am just being paranoid... but there was nothing on that page which told them who I am or how to contact me, so how are they going to manage that feat? Have they already picked up more details about me than I ever wanted them to have? I'm even less pleased now than I was before...

In any case, I will leave it to braver souls than I to continue testing and reporting on Chrome.

Hmmm ...

And there's more:

... by posting anything (via Chrome) to your blog(s), any forum, video site, myspace, itunes, or any other site that might happen to be supporting you, Google can use your work without paying you a dime. They can go and edit it all they want. Even further, you're claiming that you have the power to grant these rights. So no one who works for Conde Nast (Wired, Arstechnica), TechCrunch, Gawker, any of the other big web publishers, or a university where the employee is performing research can agree to the Chrome ToS because they most likely don't have the right to give a license to the IP (intellectual property) they produce. [My emphasis]

There are some people who have claimed that this is standard legal jargon for every piece of software. Not only is that simply not true, no clause even close to that is in the Firefox terms of service.

And unlike all these people who "are not a lawyer", I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this post does not constitute an attorney-client relationship, but Chrome's ToS are ridiculous. If you're like me, you use your browser for a lot more than just web browsing. The web browser is an entire application platform (isn't that the idea behind web apps?). Google simply cannot have a license to all of the IP that goes through my browser. I, as an attorney, cannot give that up, especially because some of it is confidential. The Rules of Professional Responsiblity (which all lawyers must abide by) easily prohibit this exact kind of thing. Until Google scales this back, I will NOT be using Chrome.

With more and more apps being shifted into web browsers, this is almost like MS claiming that it gets a license to any document in MS Word, Powerpoint, or Excel. [My emphasis] ... We have to stand up and stop accepting these ridiculous EULAs.

The worst part is the software guys over at Google saying that it's no big deal. Well, if it's no big deal, and they're not going to enforce it, then why is it in this contract? Take it out, and don't put it back in. "Do no evil," remember?

What the fuck is wrong with these fucking corporates?

Actually, I know what it is. It's fucking lawyers.


(Scott Adams is an omnipresent, omniscient genius)


IanPJ said...

Best thing you can do, to ensure that all the elements of Chrome have gone, is after removing it, restore your system to a date before you installed it.

HeartAttackSurvivor said...

JFI, it leaves C:\docs & settings\yourname\app data\google\update\googleupdate.exe running (checked it under procexp.exe). Make sure you kill that too when you uninstall the thing, and all files in that path (which the sod leaves behind). Tut tut, leaving executables behind on the system when you've run an uninstall. I ask you, some people are so forgetful.
And also remove app data\google\chrome, also left behind.
Nice uninstaller message though:
"Are you sure you want to uninstall Google Chrome? (Was it something that we said?)"
Well, now you mention it.........

Sackerson said...

A timely warning, Obo.

NMMM.NU said...

Hey, Thanks for googleupdate.exe :)
I have it running too, but I explicitly agreed google to collect stats on me.

Other thoughts - Chrome is faster, but blogger is open slower in Chrome than in IE. Posting in Blogger very sucks with Chrome as well. Google reader is slower until started too.

About the licence agreement - I did not read it, but friend told me the thing for documents you upload - pretty scary.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

@HeartAttackSurvivor: Thanks! To be pedantic, my path was actually C:\docs & settings\yourname\local settings\application data\google\update\googleupdate.exe

But it's gone now.

countdruncula said...

In mitigation, there is an open source version, upon which chrome will be based, called chromium. Hopefully, in time this will mean independent builds which have been audited for any skullduggery.

Dr Evil said...

I would not choose Chrome because of Google's habit of storing all info re your use of the Google search engine so they can focus customised advertising at you. So I just knew Chrome would be a spy and want to communicate with base. I use Firefox, have AVg and use Zone Alarm firewall (as well as AVG firewall) and it tells me if any software wants to talk to mummy back home on the quiet. I'm not having this level of intrusion. The stuff that the lawyer posted wants circulating to the blogosphere IMO.

NMMM.NU said...

>>> I would not choose Chrome because of Google's habit of storing all info re your use of the Google search engine so they can focus customised advertising at you

Thats true, but everybody doing it.