Adobe Flash installs Google Chrome and Google Toolbar by Default

Earlier today I installed Adobe Flash in my browser in order to watch a news video. Now keep in mind I am normally very vigilant when it comes to installing software on my system but today Adobe managed to slip one past me by installing Google's Chrome browser as my default browser and Google's search bar through their Adobe Flash installer.

As you can see from the picture, the checkbox to install this third party software is ticked by default and to make matters worse, it installs this third party software before it installs Flash player - so you have to be pretty damn quick to catch it if you notice the mistake and decide to cancel the installation.

Usually the options for accepting or refusing bundled third party software are presented during the installation procedure not on the download page itself - so it would seem that Adobe are doing this deliberately to catch people off guard which, in my opinion, is pretty unethical.

Not only is it unethical but it could soon be illegal under EU Law after the European Parliament recently recommended the new Data Protection Regulation should include provisions which render pre-ticked consent boxes unlawful as such consent mechanisms cannot be defined as "freely given".

But since the new Regulation is unlikely to come into effect before 2016, there is little to no protection for consumers against such practices. In theory, Article 5(3) of the ePrivacy Directive should protect consumers against these practices as it forbids the storing or reading of files on an end user's terminal equipment without explicit consent (often discussed with regards to cookies but actually relevant for all files including software installer) but sadly enforcement of these rules by the Data Protection Authorities is significantly lacking. So please be extra vigilant when downloading software from the Internet, even if that software is coming from a strong brand such as Adobe, because it seems nowadays, no-one can be trusted when it comes to trying to monetise your online activities.

Now my message to Adobe:

Flash player is a plugin for browsers, your decision to bundle another browser and supplementary software with that plugin is utterly reprehensible, underhand and destroys consumer trust in your brand. I urge you to change the policy and leave the option for Google's products unchecked by default. Failure to do so makes you no better than adware, malware and spyware vendors - so just stop already."


It's interesting that you only get Chrome if you download the plug-in using Internet Explorer. If you use Firefox you get "offered" McAfee instead.
Presumably this happens because Firefox is already in Google's pocket so it's not considered a threat.

I got caught by this last night, with the following exception: I wasn't given ANY chance to opt-out. This was an update, rather than a new install.

I have been caught by this several times and am also normally vigilant to this - I think I have discovered why. The update web page not only installs the unwanted bundled software first - it appears to build the page "install" button first. Unless your internet connection is fast there is a point where you can see a screen without anything about Chrome etc (and without a checked checkbox to uncheck to prevent the extra install). I don't hang about - waiting another 5 seconds on a webpage that looks perfectly reasonable just in case something else shows up. Of course that darn opt out is considered checked whether or not the client browser ever actually gets as far as rendering it to the user. Wish the EU would move quicker - this practice should definitely be banned (and hopefully the ban backed up with huge fines to really hurt particularly big company's that abuse it.

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