Since the Chrome Web Store has become the sole source of Chrome extensions, as well as a begrudging secondary provider for Microsoft Edge extensions, safety and security is of the utmost importance. To that end, Google has announced a new set of restrictions on Chrome extensions that should help cut back on spam.

As announced on the Chromium Blog, Google is bringing sweeping changes to the Chrome Web Store’s policies to combat the number of spam and just plain junk extensions. Google breaks it down into five categories, all of which will begin to be enforced on August 27.

  • Developers or their affiliates should not publish multiple extensions that provide duplicate experiences or functionality on the Chrome Web Store.
  • Extensions should not have misleading, improperly formatted, non-descriptive, irrelevant, excessive, or inappropriate metadata, including but not limited to the extension’s description, developer name, title, icon, screenshots, and promotional images. Developers must provide a clear and well-written description. Unattributed or anonymous user testimonials in the app’s description are also not allowed.
  • Developers must not attempt to manipulate the placement of any extensions in the Chrome Web Store. This includes, but is not limited to, inflating product ratings, reviews, or install counts by illegitimate means, such as fraudulent or incentivized downloads, reviews and ratings.
  • Extensions with a single purpose of installing or launching another app, theme, webpage, or extension are not allowed.
  • Extensions that abuse, or are associated with the abuse of, notifications by sending spam, ads, promotions, phishing attempts, or unwanted messages that harm the user’s browsing experience are not allowed. Extensions that send messages on behalf of the user without giving the user the ability to confirm the content and intended recipients are also not allowed.

Of these Chrome extension changes, the one that stands out as potentially problematic is the restriction on “duplicate […] functionality.” Depending on how strict Google intends these guidelines to be, the Chrome Web Store may not allow the existence of similar extensions from the same developer, like uBlock Origin and uMatrix, the latter being built for power users.

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