Google announced on April 2 that it would start removing cryptocurrency mining extensions for Chrome. The move was posted in a blog by James Wagner, Google Chrome’s Extensions Platform Product Manager. An overwhelming majority of such extensions were making unauthorized use of the computers upon which they were installed, which Wagner called “cryptojacking”.
Wagner also stated that the web store was no longer accepting mining extensions starting immediately, and that any existing extensions would be removed before July. Most extensions had already been removed or rejected outright because, as Wagner pointed out, “approximately 90% of all extensions with mining scripts that developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store have failed to comply with [Google’s] policies”.
Google had allowed mining extensions that mining as long as that was the single purpose of the extension and that users were adequately informed about the operation of the extension. However, most of them were also performing other functions without the user’s knowledge, and in particular cryptocurrency mining in the background. Wagner posted a graph to show how a typical user’s system could be compromised when the mining extension runs:
Wagner emphasizes that only mining extensions are being removed. Other blockchain and cryptocurrency extensions are not affected by the ban.
As of April 3, the Google chrome web store still carries over a dozen mining extensions, with most focused on Monero. However, even more anti-mining extensions are available. The move follows the decision by Google to forbid cryptocurrency advertising in its display and YouTube advertising channels. However, while cryptocurrency advocate groups are already lining up to sue Google over the advertising ban, no such actions have been announced regarding the extension ban.