Google Needs to Moderate Chrome Extension Gallery
If you are a Google Chrome user and have installed extensions from the Chrome Web Store, you need to know one important thing. The extensions available in official gallery are not as safe as you think. These extensions are not checked by Google for possible malicious behaviour. This means that these Chrome extensions may track your browsing habits, send data to a remote server, manipulate contents of a web page etc. without your consent.
The most unfortunate thing is that the Chrome team has no intention to implement an approval process for the items available at Web Store. I raised this issue earlier, but then the Chrome team said, “We’ve purposely avoided having a pre-review process for the extensions gallery / Chrome Web Store.”.
Thankfully, Mozilla is much careful about the Firefox users – and all add-ons are tested manually before they go public on AMO. Certainly, it takes long time to get approved but this ensures best and safe user experience. Google should implement a similar approval system for all items available in Chrome Web Store. After all, it is a critical issue directly related to the users’ privacy and safety.
Latest Incident: Awesome Screenshot Extension
SE RoundTable reports about a Chrome extension, "Awesome Screenshot", which manipulates Google’s search result page and inserts Amazon affiliate links without user’s permission. Neither the extension’s page on Chrome Web Store has any such information, nor it informs users after installation. This extension has 12930 user ratings and 422,340 active users. And, the extension has overall 5-star rating.
When such a popular extension has this kind of hidden feature, how can you expect other extensions to be safe. Think twice before installing any Chrome extension. :(