Recently Google introduced Chrome Extensions which are little applications that let you do more with your Chrome browser. Like take this Google Dictionary extension which can tell you the meaning of any word on a website. All you have to do is double-click the word.
Super cool, isn’t it? You just need to Install the Google Dictionary extension and double-click words and meanings will pop up! After you excitedly click “Install”, you get this lovely confirmation box, where things start getting interesting.
All it wants is for you to confirm that this extension will have access to your data on all websites and your browsing history. A little scared? Worried about privacy? Don’t be, Google already knows everything there is to know about you.
Google with its “open” culture allows everyone to create extensions. Developers around the world have already created tons of extensions and people around the world have dutifully downloaded them. See this one from Yoono. It claims to be the most popular extension on Firefox. I should be able to trust it right? But for some reason when the warning pops-up, demanding I allow Yoono to access ALL my web information, I freeze. I just can’t do it.
I decided I will have to be satisfied with extensions developed by Google. We all trust Google. Google’s the good guy. So I decide to Install Speed Tracer.
An even better confirmation message pops up this time. Google now requests access to all data on your computer. Thats right, all my local computer data. The message gives me the creeps! So Google will know everything I do online AND offline. Why don’t they just send me to prison and get over with it!
[There is a positive side to this; the extension code is public, so you could in theory review the code. Now, who doesn’t love code reviews?]