back to article Pirate captain blasts Google for its 'mystery' Chrome blob

Pirate Party captain Rick Falkvinge has weighed into the Google Chrome 'listening blob' debate, saying Mountain View silently downloaded an 'eavesdropper' to Chrome users' machines. The row arose last week, when Debian users first noticed that The Chocolate Factory was dropping the blob on their machines. Falkvinge rejects …

  1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Please correct me if I'm wrong...

    But if you include a stealth binary with otherwise OpenSource Code, doesn't that mean the binary is treated as OpenSource as well? If that's the case then open that little bastard up, find out exactly what it does, & pimp slap Google for including it at all, much less in secret. If not then I'd still vote to ban Google from making any non-validated-and-verified additions to the project as they have been doing, instead putting a hold on all contributions until/unless the code has been vetted not to pull shit like this.

    <Sarcasm>Or you could just run Windows 95, the world's most secure operating system ever!</Sarcasm>

    *Runs. Like. Hell*

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Licensing

      I took a brief look at the licenses. These are open source licenses, not free software licenses. The non-Google authors of the code selected licenses that permit linking with closed source software. Google is not obliged to release any of their source code for Chrome.

      If Google had incorporated anything with a proper free software license, then recipients of Chrome would be protected by the four freedoms of free software and would have the right to purchase the source code at approximately the cost of media and shipping.

      As always, read and understand the license before installing or contributing to a project.

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Please correct me if I'm wrong...

      <Sarcasm>Or you could just run Windows 95, the world's most secure operating system ever!</Sarcasm>

      It wouldn't really surprise me much if it was more secure then XP/Vista/7/8.x, or Windows OS-X. Considering hardly nobodies using it anymore.

    3. Craigness

      Re: Please correct me if I'm wrong...

      Apparently it's opt-in and downloaded after the browser is installed. So you have as much right to the software as you would to any other binaries you opt to download after installing your browser.

  2. frank ly

    "... Chromium, the open source sister of Chrome ..."

    I assume they're not identical twin sisters. Can anyone give a simple explanation of their differences?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: "... Chromium, the open source sister of Chrome ..."

      Chromium is the open-source part of the web browser project, and Chrome is Google's version with additional propitiatory stuff built-in (flash, other spyware).

      That is what has kicked off the storm, that Google had modified the open source part to download a close-source (and pretty creepy) feature for voice recognition.

      1. R 11

        Re: "... Chromium, the open source sister of Chrome ..."

        So the problem seems to be that users of Chromium who do trust the many millions of lines of Google contributed code in their browser don't trust Google not to transmit data other than after the keywords "OK Google" have been spoken?

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: So the problem seems to be that....

          People trust the open source lines because they can read them. They don't trust the stealth listening blob because they can't read it. It's not tricky.

          1. R 11

            Re: So the problem seems to be that....

            You're absolutely correct, it's not tricky.

            If these users trust the source code because they can read it, they can easily confirm that the binary blob is never called unless the user affirmatively opts in.

            Surely that's exactly what's intended by an open source license that permits linking to closed source binaries? If you don't trust the binary, you can satisfy yourself that it is never called or if it were to be called you can modify the code. If those are beyond your skill level then you can pay someone appropriately qualified to perform the task.

          2. Velv
            Terminator

            Re: So the problem seems to be that....

            "People trust the open source lines because they can read them."

            Which is great in principle, but everyone assumes someone else has read (and understood) the lines so nobody ever does. HeartBleed is a perfect example.

            Open source *should* be more understood and less likely to be "malicious" than closed source. But the "trust" you place in open source software is only as good as the trust you place in the people who have peer reviewed the code. And you know who they are, don't you?

  3. AMBxx Silver badge
    Devil

    It's Googlr

    What did you expect?

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Meanwhile in Firefox land

    The DRM plug-in goes in a sandbox, can be enabled and disabled as you see fit, or even can be never downloaded in the first place.

    This was too much for some commentards who announced they'd be off to Chrome.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People actually trust the word of a thief?

    Wow...

    Stupidity rules it seems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: People actually trust the word of a thief?

      Unfortunately it's Hobson's choice as far a "trusting" a thief is concerned.

      Microsoft, Apple, Google and Oracle have a very poor track record when "innovating"* systems.

      .

      * Interesting note, the term "innovation" was coined by Bill Gates in the 90s when discussing the theft development of the companies software.

      1. janimal

        Re: People actually trust the word of a thief?

        * Interesting note, the term "innovation" was coined by Bill Gates in the 90s when discussing the theft development of the companies software.

        He must have stolen that too then because "innovation" is from Middle English and is derived from the Latin innovatio (n), and innovare (v)

    2. Doctor_Wibble
      Terminator

      Re: People actually trust the word of a thief?

      I would absolutely recommend people to read that lawyer-drafted posting that apparently explains the whole thing away as being just a silly misunderstanding of an easy mistake that anyone could have made.

      Includes reassuring remarks about how something *should* default to 'not enabled', and was not listed because it's a "component extension" and therefore apparently an integral part of the chrome experience even though you can supposedly turn it off. It reads like someone carefully not apologising for something they hoped they would not get pulled up for.

      This is all about the global corporate mainframes extending their reach, and it's only a matter of time before the listening modules are fully integrated and inseparable. Do you believe the tick-box? The voice recognition is there for control, even if it appears to be for nothing more than to answer increasingly inane and pointless questions that must all be started with the mantra of submission to your computational master! The machines have already won and nobody noticed...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    serves you right

    for running google chrome!

    ...

    says a user of a spy-less firefox :(

    1. Craigness

      Re: serves you right

      This wasn't in Chrome, it was in spy-less Chromium.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    dropping the blob

    Sounds like a euphemism

  8. Groaning Ninny

    Until recently I'd been annoyed that Google has dropped support for Chrome on RHEL6 as it considers it to be obsolete. Sticking with Firefox ESR for all the workstations thank you very much - and when I roll out RHEL7 I'll need a good reason to switch to Chrome.

  9. Sandtitz Silver badge

    nice try

    Was it the same rogue coder at Google who accidentally enabled wifi data slupring with the Street View cars?

    1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

      Re: nice try

      Methinks you missed some quotation marks in there somewhere Sandtitz. Maybe starting with the letter "a and ending with the letter y"?

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