Beware Firefox China Add-On

Firefox is proud of its browser add-ons, and has even started Fashion Your Firefox to package them for users. But yesterday it warned people off some add-ons that they class as “experimental,” such as the China Channel, which allows people to surf the Web with the restrictions they’d find in China.

A Mozilla spokesman said:

“They haven’t been approved and so they may pose risks to users.”

Around 1000 users have downloaded the China Channel. One user experienced an “uninstall bug” and lost all proxy settings after he closed Firefox. Vnunet tested the channel and discovered that pages blocked by the channel stayed blocked even after disabling the add-on.

Mozilla does have small print regarding experimental add-ons, many of which have come from third-party developers and haven’t been fully tested. It reads:

“This add on is meant for advanced users to test add-ons before they are made available and reviewed for general use. Many add-ons may be in prototype form. Experimental add-ons may be alpha, beta or pre-production in quality, performance and features. Caution should be used when installing experimental add-ons, as they have not been tested by an editor and may harm your computer configuration."

In an interesting irony, the problems have come to light just as Firefox has launched its China edition.