It finally seems like people are becoming more aware about the importance of privacy online. Google has been working to improve its public image when it comes to user data privacy recently, including setting new privacy standards for Chrome extensions last year. Now the company is announcing an update to its developer policy that limits what developers of extensions can do with user data, as well as provides increased transparency regarding data-use practices.
Beginning in January, users will be able to get a fuller picture of how Chrome extensions treat their personal data. Every extension detail page in the Chrome Web Store will display information about what kind of data it collects in clear and concise language.
The detail page of Chrome extensions will start showing more info on privacy practices next year.
If a developer fails to provide these details, a notice will be shown informing users that the developer hasn’t certified their compliance with the Limited Use policy yet. Developers will be required to provide data usage disclosures when publishing or updating extensions, so it seems like most developers should get on board quickly.
Extensions that don't report their data collection practices will display this message.
In addition to this user-facing change, Google is adding more limits to how extension developers can use personal data collected. This new policy ensures that the use of user data is for the primary benefit of the user, and reiterates that the sale of user data is prohibited. Google spells out that user data cannot be used for personalizing targeted ads, either.
Of course, none of these changes really matter unless Google is going to strictly enforce them. Developers self-report their data collection practices, so while displaying them on the detail page for users to see is a great step forward in providing additional transparency, it isn't an automatic guarantee that the extension is following all the rules. It'll still be up to Google to communicate with developers and ban the bad apples — something it hasn't always gotten right.