Security or Domination? Google Blocks All External Chrome Extensions on Windows

After months of Google talking up security problems with browser extensions, here is a bit of news which comes as no surprise.

Google announced today that users of the Windows version of its Chrome web browser can now only install extensions found in the Chrome Web Store. All other sources have been blocked as a security measure, and the ad network also announced it plans to impose a similar restriction on OSX users in July of this year.

Developers can still load extensions for testing using inline installation or enterprise policy.


Google had previously blocked extensions for users running the consumer distribution of Chrome, but they had also allowed those users who had opted in to the Developer release channel to continue installing extensions from outside the Chrome Web Store. And today Google closed that loophole.

The tech giant explained that changing the rules last year reduced the number of support requests related to uninstalling unwanted extensions by 75%. That's great news, but as we've seen over the past few months malicious and unsavory developers are still snaring the unwary.

They've adapted and started tricking users into switching to the developer channel so that the unwanted off-store extensions could be installed, and today Google responded by cutting them off. Now, all extension developers will have to play by Google’s rules, and all extensions will have to be approved for use in its store in order to be green-lit for broader use.

While this could be made to look like Google grabbing the last bit of control over Chrome, I don't think most users will be impacted.

To be honest, I never even noticed that the rule changed last year. I have the ad blocker and all the other plugins and extensions I want, and unless Google starts banning extensions I don't think this will ever be a concern.



About Nate Hoffelder (11463 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

9 Comments on Security or Domination? Google Blocks All External Chrome Extensions on Windows

  1. Don’t they already ban some types of extensions? I think there were some flash video downloaders in the store that aren’t allowed to download from YouTube, while equivalent extensions in Firefox can.

  2. Blocking others is an uncompetitive move even for free things (and those free things might not stay free forever).
    As for censorship , i imagine they are freaked out by sex , like all American corporations, so at least some content got to be already banned.
    Must disclose that i have never really used the Chrome Store, first time i went to DL some free something , Google wanted me to log in and that’s excessive so i just gave up on it and never went back. Not sure what makes them think they got the right to track what apps one uses but that’s just not ok. Ofc, sadly , on mobile it’s so much worse. Suits have zero decency nowadays and regulators are in a coma.

  3. It’s interesting that net-based companies use the same justification as governments to limit freedoms: Freedom OR Security.

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