Chrome Web Store developers have to improve user data transparency

Google has announced that it’s modifying the User Data Policy for the Chrome Web Store, and developers have three months to make the needed changes if they don’t want their add-ons and apps to be booted from the online store.

“The new User Data Policy extends existing policies to ensure transparent use of the data in a way that is consistent with the wishes and expectations of users,” noted Teresita Perez and Athas Nikolakakos of the Chrome Policy Team.

Developers will be required to:

  • Make their extensions and apps handle the user data securely (including encrypting sensitive data that is transmitted to and from servers
  • Provide a clear privacy policy that will comprehensively disclose how the software collects, uses and shares user data, including the types of parties with whom it’s shared
  • Prominently display links to the privacy policy in the designated field in the Chrome Web Store Developer Dashboard, and in the software’s inline installation page
  • Ask users to consent to the collection of personal or sensitive data via a prominent disclosure, when the use of the data isn’t related to a prominent feature

Developers will also be prohibited from publicly disclosing user financial, payment or authentication information, and from collecting web browsing activity when it’s not required for an item’s main functionality.

“Protecting our users is our key priority, and we believe this change will make sure users are better informed and allow them to choose how their user data is handled,” the pair explained.

Items on the Chrome Web Store that fail to adhere to the new Privacy Policy after July 14, 2016, will be removed, Google says.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the company’s efforts in finding and removing non-complying apps and extensions will be enough to keep users safe.