Once upon a time, the browser wars revolved around which browser supports more or better extensions. As those extensions became more popular or got imitated, their exclusivity became less of a selling feature. In fact, extensions themselves have become somewhat of a liability because of security and privacy concerns. Unsurprisingly, Google’s Chrome Web Store has become a haven for those kinds of unhelpful and even harmful extensions. Given the times, Google is putting in place stricter rules to reduce the number of spam and misbehaving extensions on Chrome.
Mirroring the situation with the Android Play Store, the Chrome Web Store also has a problem with non-conformant and even malicious extensions getting through the review process. Unlike on Android, however, Google was able to block installing Chrome extensions outside of its official Web Store. That, of course, means more new extensions to review and not all of these extensions play nice.
Google has announced an update to its spam policy to whittle down the number of extensions it has to screen. Not all spam extensions are malicious but they do try to game the system. Some extensions, for example, come from the same company or its affiliates but do the exact same or similar thing. Others try to manipulate metadata or insert user reviews in their descriptions in an attempt to boost their rankings.
The Chrome Web Store’s new anti-spam policy, however, also prohibits certain things users might consider legitimate functionality. Those include installing or launching a different app or even installing a theme. Google wants to err on the side of security by blocking these.
Developers are given at least until August 27 to comply with the new policies or risk their extensions being disabled and removed. This is the latest step Google has made to get the Chrome Web Store in better shape and make it look more like a legitimate and trustworthy app store than a marketplace for shady extensions.