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Google Chrome app privacy issues

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Google wants you to do more on the web and less offline on your computer and to this end it has developed the Chrome web app store. It's a place where you can get apps that run within the web browser and provide lots of useful extra features, tools, utilities, or simply entertainment. However, there are some important privacy issues that you need to be aware of before you go ahead and install one of these Chrome apps. Can it access your email, web browsing history or even your online banking details? Some can, so beware what you install.

To access the Chrome web store just click the new tab button - the little plus symbol to the right of the last tab. If you have the latest version of Chrome then you'll see a Web Store icon and clicking it opens a new page in the browser that highlights the most popular apps, new and noteworthy ones and featured apps. You can browse apps by category, extensions, themes, collections, or paid apps. It's a very slick website that looks great and it offers a wide variety of apps from serious ones to fun ones.

Chrome Web Store

Click an app and you can go to its own page where you can see screen shots, a description, and an install button. Before you click that install button though, you should read the box that says "This app can access:" You might be surprised by what it says.

Chrome Web StoreUse the search box at the top of the store's home page page to find an app called Quick Note (it was one of the highlighted apps on the home page when I visited, but the highlighted apps are regularly changed).

Click Quick Note to open the app's page and then look at the "This app can access:" box. It says: "Your data on all websites", and "Your browsing history", but this is just a very brief summary that tells you very little. To find out what it actually does, click the Learn More link below and the help page will open.

Chrome Web StoreThe help page provides more detail and here's what it says about apps that can access "Your data on all websites", it reads "This item can read every page that you visit - your bank, your web email, your Facebook page, and so on."

So this app can access everything in your browser. Do you really want an app like this that accesses your bank, email and Facebook pages?

Have you installed any apps from the Chrome Web Store? Do you know what they can access and what they are doing with the information? It's very worrying and neither the Chrome Web Store or the app provides any clues as to whether it is safe. You should beware of apps like this and any others you might want to install.