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Chrome extension privacy crackdown begins Oct. 15 with Project Strobe

Google will eject any extensions that don't comply with the new rules.

A Google Chrome sticker

A Google Chrome sticker on a Google Pixel Chromebook

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google's Project Strobe, an attempt to keep Chrome browser extensions from slurping up your personal data, will take effect Oct. 15. The change is part of a broader tech industry move to protect private information that can be gathered for creepy business purposes or leaked through data breaches.

Project Strobe imposes two requirements on developers who write the extensions that customize Chrome's behavior. First, it requires that extensions only gather the least amount of personal data necessary. Second, it requires more extension developers to post a privacy policy -- specifically, anyone writing an extension that handles personal communications or any other user-provided content.

Break the rules? Your extension will be booted from the Chrome web store, said Chrome team members Alexandre Blondin and Swagateeka Panigrahy in a blog post Tuesday.

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The new rules also require any personal communications or content to be transmitted with encrypted-protected network connections. That means no more unprotected video and photo sharing.

Extensions are just one way data can be harvested, though. Website scripts and cookies -- some of them from Google itself -- also can gather personal data and track you across the internet. In this domain, other browsers -- Apple's Safari, Mozilla's Firefox, Brave Software's Brave and Microsoft's Edge -- are becoming more assertive on behalf of the people using them.

Google announced Project Strobe in 2018 after a massive data exposure through its Google+ service. It sketched out the related Chrome policies in May. Google has now published detailed wording for Chrome extension privacy and data-handling rules along with the Oct. 15 date the policy goes into effect.

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