You do carefully check all of the user agreements that flash before your eyes before clicking OK, don’t you? Well, you should — even if most of us don’t — and this weekend’s furore over popular torrenting software uTorrent is the most recent reminder why.
With a little help from users, Trusted Reviews first found out that the new uTorrent update came with a Bitcoin mining tool called Epic Scale. According to disgruntled forum members, this software installed itself without permission alongside uTorrent, taking up CPU cycles on users’ computers and earning some extra revenue for the developers.
BitTorrent, which owns uTorrent, responded with a statement: “Like many software companies, we have partner offers in our install path and our policy is that they are strictly optional. We aim to work with partners that would appeal to our tech-forward user base. This is the case with Epic Scale, they are litecoin based and charity-focused.”
“We have reviewed the issue closely and can confirm there is no silent install happening. We are continuing to look at the issue. But this is most likely these users accepted the offer during install.”
That’s backed up by a step-by-step walkthrough of the install process carried out by Trusted Reviews, which reveals there is indeed a confirmation window asking users if they want to install Epic Scale. Either the members posting in the uTorrent forums didn’t see it, or they’ve got their hands on rogue versions of the installation app.
Third-party bundled tools are a key way that developers of free software can try and get some financial return from their efforts, but some of these third-party apps are more sinister than others. Epic Scale seems to be one of the more benign applications out there — much of the ‘mining’ it does goes towards helping charities and research projects — but it’s a timely reminder not to click through those setup wizards too quickly.