Google Chrome will soon tell you why an extension was removed

Ashwin
Aug 17, 2023
Google Chrome
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9

Google recently announced that it will provide weekly security updates for its Chrome browser. The Mountain View company has revealed a change to its safety check settings that will warn you when an extension was removed.

 

Oliver Dunk, a Developer Relations Engineer for Chrome Extensions, has published an article on the Chrome Developer's blog to explain the new policy in the browser. Normally, when an extension is removed from the Chrome Web Store, it is because of one of the following reasons. The add-on may have been unpublished (or pulled) by the developer. An extension may be taken down for violating Chrome Web Store policy, or if the plugin was discovered as malware.

So, when an extension that you used disappears mysteriously, it is due to one of the above cases. But, you, as the user, may not be informed about the reason for the add-on's removal. This is precisely what Chrome wants to address.

Google Chrome will notify you why an extension was removed

Google Chrome will display a notification to alert the user when one of the extensions that they had installed is no longer available for use. The notifications will be displayed in the Safety Check page under Chrome's Privacy and Security Settings. chrome://settings/privacy.

Google Chrome review extensions safety check

(Image via Google)

For example, when an extension has been removed by Chrome, you will see a banner about it. There is also a Review button that you may click, which takes you to chrome://extensions, and displays a list of add-ons that were removed, along with the reason why they were disabled.  Users will be able to remove the extension permanently. Alternatively, you may choose to hide the warning, if you want to continue using the extension. Google says that it will automatically disable extensions that have been marked as malware. That seems like a good choice, automatically remove malicious add-ons, and let the user decide whether to retain a potentially harmless one that may have been unpublished by the author for unknown reasons.

Google Chrome review extensions from safety check settings

(Image courtesy: Google)

Speaking of which, Google says that it will provide developers with a grace period during which they will be allowed to address an issue about a possible violation, or to appeal against the report. In this case, the add-on will not be removed from the user's browser, they will not be notified about the said extension, until a resolution has been reached with the developer.

The announcement, spotted by The Verge, says that this change will be shipped in the next major release in the browser's cycle, which is Chrome 117. That's the current version which is in Beta, Google will release Chrome 117 to users in the Stable channel in mid-September.

You can manually enable an option in chrome://flags/ to test the feature in Chrome 116 in the stable channel. It is called "Extensions Module in Safety Check". Enable it and restart Chrome to apply the changes. When an extension is deemed unsafe, you will be able to review it.

Extensions Module in Safety Check Google Chrome

I like this new policy about extensions, and the fact that users are given the option to continue using an add-on, provided that it may be safe. It's much better to let users know why an add-on was removed, rather than keep them in the dark and guessing, which could send them into panic mode about whether the extension was malicious, and if their data has been compromised. This happened with the Bypass Paywalls Clean issue, which left users pondering if the add-on had been hit by a DMCA notice. A simple warning could help educate users, while keeping them safe. Mozilla, are you taking notes?

Summary
Google Chrome will soon tell you why an extension was removed
Article Name
Google Chrome will soon tell you why an extension was removed
Description
Wondering why a Chrome extension was removed automatically? A new feature in the browser will let you know the reason why the add-on is no longer available.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. owl said on August 17, 2023 at 9:09 am
    Reply

    When an emergency arises, how they respond will determine us fate.

    When a storm is forecast, it is necessary to “stop power supply to the transmission line” from the viewpoint of preventing electric shock damage and fire caused by short circuit or breakage of the transmission line. Failure to turn off electricity is the most likely cause of the devastating fires in Hawaii.
    The “Miracle on Hudson’s Bay” also assumed the worst case and dealt with it quickly and decisively.
    Instead of making judgments based on afterthoughts, we should nimbly act assuming the worst, and providing information should not be the top priority.

    In an emergency, If miss the opportunity, it will be too late.
    In any case, initial response is essential.

    In an emergency, delays in providing information would be unavoidable.
    However, it must be delivered information to those who need it as soon as possible.

    1. bruh said on August 17, 2023 at 11:04 am
      Reply

      and this has, what, to do with chrome extensions?

      1. owl said on August 18, 2023 at 1:03 am
        Reply

        @bruh,
        > and this has, what, to do with chrome extensions?

        This article (authored by Ashwin) describes a “methodology when a browser extension is found to be fraudulent or suspect”.
        The article would “need to provide determinate information to users before disabling such extensions, Postponing the provision of information will cause distrust of users”.
        Like this, he is warns Mozilla, explaining the example of Google.

      2. bruh said on August 18, 2023 at 10:44 am
        Reply

        I dunno, the way I see it, chrome has the power to remove extensions from their extension store, and even disable/remove extensions from chrome itself. That is already how things are – the only thing that will change is that you will get a reason why… how is that bad? Seems like an improvement.

      3. owl said on August 18, 2023 at 11:15 am
        Reply

        @bruh,

        My comment is in response to the author Ashwin’s mention of “Mozilla, are you taking notes?”.
        Information provision like Google’s may be desirable, but the priority should be to “block out the risk”, if they take time to provide information, or if they are worried about false positives, they may miss the opportunity.

        Also, the method of providing information “there is room for consideration”.

  2. Anonymous said on August 17, 2023 at 1:54 pm
    Reply

    ! This extension violated our terms of service.

  3. Benjamin said on August 17, 2023 at 9:34 pm
    Reply

    I guess that ghacks is shadow banning comments.

    1. Mystique said on August 18, 2023 at 7:46 am
      Reply

      I have noticed that sometimes my comments particularly if I add a URL to the comment it will likely get flagged for moderation and won’t appear until later. It might be something that a bot is doing and the moderators are yet to review. It could also be something that is trigger by keywords.

      I find ghacks to be pretty easy going. I do find that some posts are political which is odd sometimes because half of the people are not even from the US which is usually where these issues are more prominent.

      Keep in mind that there is also a disclaimer too so who knows.

      “We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
      Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.”

  4. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 5:20 am
    Reply

    Chrome, where google keeps your data safe(ly in our own greedy little hands and will do anything to prevent anyone else from making profit from it but us!)

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