Extensions for Google’s Chrome web browser will soon be forced to show a bit more transparency concerning user data. From early next year, Google is introducing a policy that will require developers to disclose what data they are collecting and why.
“Starting January 2021, each extension’s detail page in the Chrome Web Store will show developer-provided information about the data collected by the extension, in clear and easy to understand language,” Alexandre Blondin and Mark M. Jaycox of Chrome’s Product & Policy, explained. “Data disclosure collection is available to developers today.”
Developers will also have to pledge to comply with the new policy in order to publish or update an extension. If a developer has not provided privacy disclosures by January 18, 2021, a notice will be displayed on their Chrome Web Store listing informing users that the developer has not certified its compliance with the policy.
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Extension developers will also be given additional policies to follow explaining what type of data they are allowed to gather. Specifically, the data must be for the primary benefit of the user and be in accordance with the extension’s stated purpose. In addition, selling data, using it for personalized advertising, or using to gauge creditworthiness is prohibited.
Google is keen to show users that it can be trusted with their data – and it’s a lot of data to be held responsible for. In addition to its web browser, Google also processes data relating to its search engine, its Android operating system, smart home devices and a host of other technologies. Last year, the firm concluded its review of third-party developer access to Google accounts and Android device data, Project Strobe. That resulted in a number of policy changes, which have been beefed up further by the strengthening of extension rules coming next year.
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Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services. After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.