Google removes dangerous extensions from Chrome Web Store

Google has removed some dangerous extensions that were collecting personal data, from the Chrome Web Store. One would expect that extensions like Avast or AVG would add to security by them working to protect you from threats but that did not turn out to be the case when Wladimir Palant, the creator of Adblock discovered that these were collecting data of users that according to him:

exceeds by far what would be considered necessary or appropriate even for the security extensions.

Although AVG Online Security extension was said to be doing the same thing as Avast, it is still on the Chrome Web Store and Google hasn’t yet confirmed details about why that is.

Google extensions chrome web store chrome extensions
Extensions concerning privacy of users removed by Google from the Chrome Web Store.

Details about what the chrome extensions were doing have been released. According to the report, the research found out that when Avast Online Security extension when active, it requests information about websites that were are being visited but it did not end there since according to the research the extension transmits data and reconstructs the entire browsing history of the user.

What makes it even more bizarre according to the research is the extensions need to know and track “how many tabs do you have open, what websites do you visit and when, how much time do you spend reading/watching the contents. what do you click there and when do you switch to another tab.”

Other browsers such as Opera and Firefox have also removed these extensions from their store following this privacy concern early this morning after Google removed the extensions.

Wladimir Palant also said that the data collection is not an oversight stating:

The extension attempts to collect as much context data as possible, and it does so on purpose. The Avast privacy policy shows that Avast is aware of the privacy implications here. However, they do not provide any clear retention policy for this data. They rather appear to hold on to the data forever, feeling that they can do anything with it as long as the data is anonymized.

Read more: Facebook to not use user phone numbers for friend suggestions

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