Apple undermines the trust of the Internet

Mikey 2 comments
Apple undermines the trust of the Internet

According to Steve Jobs, long held Internet trust and etiquette don't apply to Apple. If you hadn't heard, Jobs and Co did something rather sneaky last week, some might say slimey.

You know how some software has an auto-update feature that alerts you when there are new updates? Well software developers go to a lot of effort to gain our trust with things like auto-update features. As end users, we trust that the software update notifications are only for updates to that particular piece of software. We hope that in the process of allowing this, that the company doesn't try to sneak something passed us without our knowledge or permission.

Apple have undermined that trust with the Apple Software Update utility that comes with iTunes and Quicktime by trying to sneak in their latest version of the Safari web browser. The obvious problem here is that Safari is not an update for either Quicktime or iTunes, it's a completely new piece of software. But the notification has Safari listed and checked as a default in the updates dialogue. This makes it very easy for people to install software they didn't ask for or want.

Anyway, Mozilla CEO John Lilly is pissed and I don't blame him. Sure John has two reasons to be pissed, one being the potential to lose market share, but he insists the issue of trust and security trump that. Said Lilly:

"By and large, all software makers are trying to get users to trust us on updates, and so the likely behavior here is for users to just click 'Install 2 items,' which means that they've now installed a completely new piece of software, quite possibly completely unintentionally. Apple has made it incredibly easy - the default, even - for users to install ride along software that they didn't ask for, and maybe didn't want. This is wrong, and borders on malware distribution practices. It's wrong because it undermines the trust that we're all trying to build with users. Because it means that an update isn't just an update, but is maybe something more. Because it ultimately undermines the safety of users on the web by eroding that relationship. It's a bad practice and should stop."

Something that is quite humorous in this regard, is the discovery by setteB.IT that the Safari licence agreement actually forbids Windows users from installing it. Doing so violates the EULA. Maybe Apple should spend a little time reading their own documentation instead of plotting deceptive deployment practices.

You can read John Lilly's thoughts on this issue on his blog post. All up, I'm inclined to agree with the man's sentiments. Cut it out, Apple.

Not a Member!


Thursday 27th March 2008 | 10:28 PM

Apple are the pretend "little guy" in the IT world. They have a huge and devoted fan base who support them because of their actions in the 1980s, but those days are long gone. Apple, now, are close to, if not worse than Microsoft. They certainly give them a good run for their money in any case, in terms of sneaky and underhanded treatment of customers and partners (artists on iTunes for example).

What they excel in (where Microsoft fail), however, is public relations. MS constantly screw people over and make themselves look like Dr Evil. Apple screw people over and no one notices. This is part Apple-fan-boyism, part IT-media laziness and part good PR management.

One thing is for sure - it won't last. Either they'll clean up their act (unlikely) or they'll start to taint themselves too much to look clean anymore.

Then we can all hate them along with Microsoft and RedHat can be the new Apple.

Then the cycle can repeat.

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Jim - Just A Guy

Friday 28th March 2008 | 03:35 AM

I just ran across this with my last iTunes update. I got a box asking me to install Safari. It tripped my firewall too. I just started using COMODO which is a pain at first as yiu set up trusted programs but it has already saved me some headaches catching some potentially harmful little bugs.

Ever since Jobs and Gates got buddy buddy you knew this was coming.

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