Google has clarified Chrome’s universal licensing terms after a user argued that the firm could limit an individual’s web browsing based on the content he or she viewed.
The web giant’s head flack Gabriel Stricker hit back in a corporate blog post yesterday after Slashdot published an anonymous reader’s musings about Chrome’s EULA (end user licence agreement).
The reader questioned section 7.3 of Chrome’s licence, which states that “Google reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, reuse or remove any or all content from our service”.
Chrome’s EULA also states in the same section that Google provides tools to “filter out explicit sexual content. In addition, there are commercially available services and software to limit access to material that you may find objectionable.”
All of which led the Slashdotter to ask: “Does this mean that Google reserves the right to filter my web browsing experience in Chrome (without my consent to boot)?”
The reader also pondered if the internet search giant had simply carried over EULAs of its other services such as Gmail and Blogger.
“One would think that after the previous EULA affair with Chrome, Google would try to sound a little less draconian.”
However, Stricker hit back at those claims. He pointed to comments left by others in the Slashdot post who said that Google had simply applied its bog-standard Terms of Service (TOS) to Chrome.
“This is the exact same language we use in many other Google TOS,” said Stricker. “We are trying to be consistent across all of our products and services, hence the uniformity.”
Others added that Google provided its Safe Browsing mode in Chrome, while another alert Slashdotter pointed out the blindingly obvious:
“In any case, it's open source (under the name Chromium [google.com]), so if you don't like Google's EULA, or any other part of their plans for Chrome, you will be able to download and run one of the third-party, de-Googlised builds of Chromium, or even build your own. It seems unlikely that Google would impose particularly unpalatable terms on Chrome, given that it comes with its own competition built in.”
Indeed. All of which makes us wonder why Google felt the need to respond to the Slashdot piece in the first place.
Perhaps Mountain View is simply being a little over-sensitive about its TOS these days, following the kerfuffle kicked up by users last September when they spotted a less-than-pretty section in the small print.
Chrome's original EULA had claimed ownership of anything a user created within its browser. Google swiftly amended the terms following a barrage of criticism. ®