Mozilla is thinking of allowing its users to automatically block websites, identified by Google as a risk for malicious downloads, in their next generation web brower. Google collects lists of presumably malicious webpages using information gathered by Stopbadware.org, Lenovo, and Sun. It's not a done deal, but if so it would amount essentially to Google having veto power over Firefox browsed webpages.
If the security tool makes it into Firefox 3.0's final build, Mozilla
will rely on long-time partner Google to provide the blocking
blacklists. Google already does that for Firefox 2.0's anti-phishing
feature, which is powered by the search giant's open-source "Safe
Browsing" code. (Safe Browsing was offered as a separate plug-in for
Firefox before Version 2.0, then baked into the Google Toolbar for Firefox.)
But comments made by developers, designers and others on Bugzilla show
that Mozilla has questions about the Google technology. "Will the
google malware blacklist include sites that are known to be exploiting
just Firefox, or IE, or all browsers?" queried Chris Hofmann. "Do we
need to make that distinction and/or communicate it to the user so we
don't overstep our bounds?"
I have a suggestion to calm the fears of any webpage proprietors over inadvertant blacklisting. Google should have an office with one code-savvy clerk, who sits next to an FBI agent. Anybody with the nerve to call and ask for their webpage to be read by those two people should immediately be assumed innocent. I bet that phone never rings.