May 31, 2019

Google to Remove Rogue Chrome Browser Extensions and Apps Which Violate Its Latest Privacy Rules from Web Store

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


Google has announced plans to clamp down on rogue extensions to its Chrome web browser which have been found to house malware, spread crypto scams and access user data, according to a senior company official.

The company will clamp down on what information creators of extensions may access and these changes would also apply to Google Drive.

“We’re requiring extensions to only request access to the appropriate data needed to implement their features," Ben Smith, Google's Vice President of Engineering wrote in a recent official company blog post.

These changes will come into effect in a few months and Google has stated that Chrome extension developers would get at least 90 days notice to introduce their changes.

Essentially, it would mean that after users have installed any Chrome extension, its developers wouldn’t be able to request too much of user information in exchange for the download. More specifically, a Chrome extension which enables spell check, for instance, wouldn't be able to access the location of users who have downloaded it.

As per Google’s latest rules, developers of Chrome extensions would also have to mandatorily post privacy policies explaining how they use data they access from Chrome browser users. This requirement which had applied only to developers who handled sensitive user data will now be extended to developers of Chrome extensions.

These changes to privacy rules for Chrome extensions have come after Google faced criticism about its dominance of the web browser space, since Chrome has almost 70% market share of all web browsers.

After Google stated recently that it would introduce changes to how advertisement blockers work on Chrome, which could make them useless, creators of ad blockers criticized Google for introducing these changes which they say could benefit its advertising business.

Google decided to make these changes as part of its Project Strobe data review which was launched last year after it was revealed that Gmail add-on developers could read people's emails, including entire messages, as well as a lot of other private details.

However, the Chrome extension changes may be difficult for Google to enforce since there are more than 180,000 extensions in its web store and millions of people have installed many extensions.

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