The purchase of popular browser extensions for Google chrome or Mozilla Firefox is a lucrative business. Companies offer developers sums in the four or five digit range to get full control over the extension.
Once the deal has been completed, work beings to implement monetization features into the newly acquired extension. A popular choice right now is the inclusion of affiliate marketing links on web pages that are visited by users who run the extension.
Other options are the direct injection of ads on web pages, or the tracking of user movement across the web.
The main issue here is not the monetization or the tracking, but the fact that this is enabled for all users of the extension without information.
Chrome extensions update automatically, and as long as they do not require any additional privileges, users are not notified about updates. Firefox add-ons can be updated automatically as well.
You have two options here. The first is to block extensions from updating automatically. This can be done quite easily in Firefox, as you have full control over each extension individually in the browser.
Alternatively, do the following to disable all automatic updates:
Chrome on the other hand does not provide you with options to do so directly. There is a workaround though for that, but it is not pretty, and you will have to repeat the process after each upgrade. Here is how that is done:
Update: The two Firefox add-ons described below are no longer available. Mozilla changed the Firefox add-on system with the release of Firefox 57. There is no comparable add-on available for Firefox at the time of writing. End
The second option that you have is to use extensions that inform you about updates. Firefox users can install the Add-on Update Checker extension for the browser and configure it to alert you when updates are available. You can furthermore use it to block update checks for specific extensions, and whether you want addon updates to be installed automatically.
Addons Recent Updates is a related extension. It displays more add-ons under recent updates on the about:addons page, which can be useful to track down which add-ons have been updated recently in Firefox.
Google Chrome users can check out Extensions Update Notifier which informs you when Chrome extensions get updated. In addition to notifying you, it will also display a change log if available.Advertisement
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.