Google announces new policy limiting how user data can be used by Chrome extensions

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Google is taking some new steps to protect user data and privacy. The company today announced a new policy limiting how Chrome developers can use user data. The announcement was sent out to developers via email.

Protecting user data is becoming ever more important as Google and other tech giants face Senate committees seeking answers on big tech operations. Google is also facing stiffer competition in the browser space, with Microsoft Edge, Brave Browser, and other privacy-focused alternatives popping up everywhere.

I know a few of us here at Techaeris have switched from Google Chrome to Microsoft Edge, not so much because of user data issues but performance issues. Here’s what Google had to say about this new policy they’re putting in place to protect user data:

Google announces new policy limiting how user data can be used by Chrome extensions
Photo Courtesy of Google

Protecting users and their data is a fundamental aspect of the work we do on Chrome. Last year we announced a set of policies to protect users and their data by requiring that extensions request the narrowest possible permissions, and we required more extensions to post privacy policies and handle user data securely. Today, we are announcing policy changes that build upon those protections by:

  • Limiting what extension developers can do with the data they collect.
  • Requiring developers to certify their data use practices.

Starting January 2021, each extension’s detail page in the Chrome Web Store will show the data collected by the extension, in clear and easy to understand language.

We’re introducing an additional policy focused on limiting usage of user data collected through a Chrome extension. More specifically:

  • Reiterating that the sale of user data is never allowed. Google does not sell user data and extension developers may not do this either.
  • The use or transfer of user data should be for the primary benefit of the user and in accordance with the stated purpose of the extension.
  • The use or transfer of user data cannot be used for creditworthiness or any form of lending qualification.

The Chrome Web Store will also help users understand an extension’s privacy practices directly on the Chrome Web store listing.

On each extension detail page, the data collected by the extension will be displayed in a standardized manner. Additionally, whether a developer has certified their compliance with the limited use policy will also be displayed.

These new policies will go into effect in January 2021, and developers have until March 2021 to fall in line. You can read more about these new policies on the Chromium Blog.

What do you think of these new policies? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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