Google has announced that the Chrome Web Store is banning extensions that contain cryptocurrency mining scripts. New extensions with coin mining scripts submitted to the store are being rejected as of today, and existing extensions already in the store will be removed “in late July.”
As the post on Google Chromium blog diplomatically states (emphasis ours):
Until now, Chrome Web Store policy has permitted cryptocurrency mining in extensions as long as it is the extension’s single purpose, and the user is adequately informed about the mining behavior. Unfortunately, approximately 90% of all extensions with mining scripts that developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store have failed to comply with these policies, and have been either rejected or removed from the store.
Starting today, Chrome Web Store will no longer accept extensions that mine cryptocurrency. Existing extensions that mine cryptocurrency will be delisted from the Chrome Web Store in late June. Extensions with blockchain-related purposes other than mining will continue to be permitted in the Web Store.
Until now, Google has permitted developers to submit cryptocurrency mining extensions to the Chrome Web Store that (1) are solely intended for mining and (2) don’t try to obfuscate their mining behavior. But according to the search giant, the vast majority of mining extensions—approximately 90%—failed to comply with its policies.
There have been a number of instances of cryptojacking, which companies like Tesla and Showtime, governments and Android phones have fallen prey to. Earlier this year, Salon began giving readers the option of turning off their ad blockers or letting the site mine cryptocurrency with their computer’s processing power. In January, an updated version of Opera gave users the option of blocking cryptocurrency mining scripts through its ad-blocking software.
In theory, cryptojacking can be used for legitimate purposes, like raising revenue for a publishing platform or collecting funds for charitable causes. But in practice, the technology has largely been implemented maliciously, or at least secretly, consuming processing resources on victim devices and potentially interfering with and damaging these targets.