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Google Rushes To Chrome's Defense

Seeking to avoid a repeat of <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/google/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=210500008">the outcry last September</a> over rights-grabbing legal boilerplate in its Chrome Web browser End User License Agreement (EULA), Google promptly shot down a Saturday post on Slashdot that claimed the company reserved the right to filter Internet sites displayed in Chrome.

Thomas Claburn

April 6, 2009

2 Min Read

Seeking to avoid a repeat of the outcry last September over rights-grabbing legal boilerplate in its Chrome Web browser End User License Agreement (EULA), Google promptly shot down a Saturday post on Slashdot that claimed the company reserved the right to filter Internet sites displayed in Chrome.Such is the suspicion of Google these days that some people seem ready to believe that Google wants to limit the content that users of its browser can see.

The post's title, "Chrome EULA Reserves the Right To Filter Your Web," describes legalese in the Chrome EULA. But the post itself provides no evidence Google intends to exercise this right. It merely questions the significance of the contractual language.

Gabriel Stricker, Google's director of global communications and public affairs, on Sunday posted a response on the Google Chrome blog to make it clear that Google had no plans to arbitrarily filter content in Chrome. Cherry-picking replies from the Slashdot discussion and citing them to make his points, he notes that the EULA contains standard legal language that shouldn't be viewed as a commitment to take restrictive action.

"This is the exact same language we use in many other Google Terms of Service," he said. "We are trying to be consistent across all of our products and services, hence the uniformity."

The language in the EULA gives Google the latitude to filter malware. "Google provides features such as Safe Browsing that warn you if you are about to go to a suspected phishing site, and we verify the URL you are planning to go to with a database of known phishing sites," he explained. "Other relevant factors include the need for Google to comply with the law relating to your Web-browsing experience, such as regulations against hate speech, child pornography and so on."

Finally, to allay the worries raised by the Slashdot post, Stricker cites a post attributed to the user name "acb." The post says that Chrome is an open-source project and that anyone unhappy with the EULA can download an alternate build not controlled by Google or can compile a build of their own that's not subject to the same EULA.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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