Aug 02, 2019

Fight against rogue developers continues as Google Chrome blocks flash by default and notifies extension developers about impending restrictions

Google announced the release of Chrome 76, which blocks Adobe Flash by default. Back in 2017, Adobe committed to killing Flash by 2020, an inevitable fate that Google has continued to uphold over the years. Starting in 2015, Chrome began pausing less important Flash content and then, in 2016, began blocking ‘behind the scenes’ Flash content. Next year, Flash will be removed from Chrome entirely.

While Flash ushered in a new era of interactive websites and rich media, few will likely miss its bug-ridden reputation and poor security performance in a world that increasingly fears the serious privacy implications of browser vulnerabilities. With less third-party proprietary software operating in the browser, Chrome can take more responsibility for its user experience.

Google is also requiring developers to minimize data collection from their chrome extensions. Chrome extensions must request the least amount of data necessary to work, hopefully hastening the demise of permission-greedy extensions that access local storage, microphones, and browsing data to accomplish simple tasks. Google revealed that developers have until October 15th to make adjustments to their extensions.

With 180,000+ Chrome extensions currently available in the web store, Google has a long review process ahead. Many extensions will likely need fixes, too. Over the past year, several high-profile reports have shown that less reputable, but often innocuous, Chrome extensions are harvesting private user information. Chrome extensions are only the latest front in an ongoing data and privacy war: a few months ago, Google began notifying developers about new restrictions to its Gmail and Drive APIs. For developers in the Google ecosystem, security and strict data policies will be top of mind for any new apps and tools.

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