Down with foistware!

3,000 (update: and counting) sign petition to remove Ask Toolbar from Java

Elliot Bentley

Discontent over bundling of third-party software spreads as petition to Larry Ellison reaches top of Hacker News.

Over 3,000 people have
signed a
directly asking Larry Ellison to remove the bundled
Ask Toolbar from the Java installer on Windows.

Update (6 Feb, 2pm GMT): Less than 24 hours later,
the petition has risen to almost 8,000 signatures.

The petition was started on 1 February, but exploded in the number
of signatures after it reached the top of
Hacker News

While third-party software has been bundled with Java for years,
there has been a sudden outcry regarding the Ask Toolbar bundled
with Java’s installer. It’s likely a by-product of the recent
high-profile security alerts, which each time require Java to be
manually updated.

article on ZDNet
appeared to be the tipping point, documenting
the issue fully and bringing to light a previously unknown
ten-minute delay between the installation of Java and of the
bundled toolbar. The issue has since become so large that Oracle

recently addressed the subject with JUG leaders
, pledging to
“carefully consider” all community feedback.

One developer, Dr Saied Nourian, apparently decided that enough is
enough and
started a petition on
, claiming Oracle has
sacrificed the “integrity of Java” for the sake of a “few pennies
per download”.

“It is demeaning for a respected corporation such as Oracle to
resort to such techniques only to make a small profit,” asserts the
Boston-based developer. “Ask Toolbar hijacks user’s default search
engine and forwards them to Ask search engine which resorts to
various misleading advertisement techniques in order to confuse the
unsuspecting users into clicking on their paid ads.”

At the time of writing, the petition had reached 3,003 signatures,
though the page claims that a total of 250,000 signatures are
required before (presumably) being sent to the desk of Larry
Ellison. Considering there are 9 million Java developers in the
world, it’s always possible that this target will be met. Whether
it will be listened to is another matter altogether.

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