OpenDNS Accuses Dell, Google Of Spyware

    May 23, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The deal between Dell and Google that places Google’s toolbar on new Dell PCs has OpenDNS founder and CEO David Ulevitch questioning their practices.

OpenDNS Accuses Dell, Google Of Spyware
OpenDNS Accuses Dell, Google Of Spyware

Removing the Google Toolbar from a new Dell system doesn’t completely take away Google’s effect on a PC. Ulevitch thinks this borders on placing spyware on new computers, for the sake of boosting the razor-thin margins in Dell’s PC business.

"(T)he opportunity for Dell to get a recurring revenue stream from an existing customer long after the sale of the computer is more than just enticing, it’s huge," said Ulevitch. "It also means a couple other things:"

  1. Dell and Google have an incentive to make it very hard for users to turn this off.
  2. Because users can’t get rid of it, Dell and Google can get away with putting more ads on the page and pushing user-relevant content off the page.

The toolbar installation is only part of the problem, according to Ulevitch:

In fact, uninstalling the Google Toolbar won’t get rid of it. Dell and Google are now installing a second program on computers that intercepts all sorts of queries that the browser would normally try to resolve. This program has no clear name and is very hard to uninstall. In some circles, people would call this spyware.

A piece of software called Browser Address Error Redirector, or Google AFE on older systems, has to be uninstalled to make the redirection behavior go away for good.