Mozilla Bans Popular YouTube Unblocker Add-On

One of Firefox’s popular add-ons has been kicked from the repository after repeated bad behavior, and it is unlikely to come back. The YouTube add-on uses a list of proxy servers to circumvent geoblocking of YouTube videos, which in itself is a very useful feature, but one that you’ll have to find another add-on for from now on.

The latest of multiple issues with the popular browser add-on that already accumulated over 250 thousand downloads started last weekend with a user reporting an issue on the Mozilla bug tracker. After installing the add-on, his anti-virus software alarmed him right away that it had blocked a download coming from a third-party website which had been flagged as malware by Avast Anti Virus.

On further examination, the user found out that the add-on was altering the browser settings and disabled the add-on signing feature preventing unauthorized installs, AKA add-ons that haven’t been signed or certificated by Mozilla. After disabling this security feature, the YouTube Unblocker add-on then went on to download another add-on called Adblock Converter from a third-party domain via an unsecured connection, an add-on that is categorized as malware and isn’t to be found in the official add-on library. To make matters even worse, users without proper anti-virus or anti malware solutions wouldn’t even know that this extra add-on was installed as it wouldn’t show up in the about:addons page either and it would reinstall itself again if a user managed to uninstall it in safe mode.

This is far from the first time that this add-on has been under investigation for bad behavior, last time in June 2015 where they were caught circumventing the official guidelines for add-ons with update code that bypassed the official Mozilla review process. Before that, they were caught tampering with search results and sending data back to the company without the users consent or knowledge, even when the user opted out of the feature.

Luckily for users who need a geo-unblocking feature for their Firefox browser, there are plenty of other alternatives to choose from.

Geo-Blocking Could Become A Thing Of The Past

Geo-Blocking has been a hot topic in recent years, and even more so in recent years. The term is applied to the process by which certain digital media, most notably online videos are limited to certain countries based on where their IP says they are, but this may be set to change within Europe at least.

The EU commission is moving one step closer towards the idea of a unified digital market with recently purposed policies. Among the new policies are several sections that will not only put the end to geo-blocking within Europe but also will update copyright so that people can enjoy their music, films and digital games while abroad as if they were in their home country.

Typically in modern days companies, due to the laws of other countries, block watching or downloading certain things due to the local laws, most normally because the company the program belongs to doesn’t have permission to show the media in other countries, although this can also come down to the actual content being in breach of laws within the country in more extreme cases.

With the use of VPN’s (Virtual Private Network) on the rise, allowing people to pretend that they are in another country rather than the one they say they are from, more and more companies are either having to block VPN’s or find ways to share their products with the wider public. Netflix, one of the largest  media streaming services, has spoken out about this and instead of relying on VPN’s it has stated that it is seeking global deals allowing users from all around the world to watch their TV and Film’s in any country without any delays between releases.

Among the new plans are also steps for the EU to take piracy and illegal content online, while also looking at topics such as search engines behaviour and those of online companies to ensure fair use of the internet and remove any anticompetative natures that may have developed in recent years.

The final step in the EU policies purposed is new steps on topics such as e-health and the proposal of a “European Free Flow of Data Initiative”. With these steps in the next few years it could be possible to watch and download any of your digital media in any part of the EU without a delay between it being released in the UK or in Germany.

Thank you to the Inquirer and ZDNet for the information.