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Opera has introduced a new feature called “Unite” that will allow users to turn their browsers into servers. It’s a concept that might be as well-thought-out as sending customers on a hike in a safari park with backpacks full of raw meat.

According to the Opera Unite Developer’s Primer, “Opera Unite features a Web server running inside the Opera browser, which allows you to do some amazing things.” We’re betting there are some other people who use the Internet who will be doing some amazing things with this too.

Unite is basically a group of extensions to the Opera Web browser widget system. They will make it possible for Opera users to set their machines up as servers to provide their friends with blogs or access to files. Opera’s servers will serve up pages for the “Turbo” feature and act as proxies (with firewall) for the communication between the users’ Unite-linked browsers. Opera staff will check for bugs and malcode. Adult material is not allowed.

The most significant question that arises is: Will users accidentally give unintended access to their file systems? Opera programs are really widgets. Shortcuts have been provided for configuring what they can access. Some shortcuts lead to system folders. There are warnings included in the documentation, but, ultimately what is exposed is left to the developer.

Widgets will be available from sources other than Opera. It could be possible for an intruder to create an Opera widget that appears to be just a local widget but really uses the Unite protocol for malicious purposes.

We’ll be watching for the first “Unite” botnet.

Read more here.

Opera’s primer for Unite developers here.

Tom Kelchner