“Stylish” extension with 2M downloads banned for tracking every site visit

Enlarge / Google final results despatched to distant servers. (credit history: Robert Heaton)

Google, Mozilla, and Opera have pulled a browser extension with extra than two million downloads just after it was caught monitoring each individual web page its end users visited—and sending the info to a remote server.

The Trendy extension permitted people to personalize the search and experience of web sites in a wide range of approaches. Amongst other items, it could eliminate clutter this sort of as Facebook or Twitter information feeds, modify typical pictures to black-and-white manga illustrations or photos, and change black-on-white web-site themes to white-on-black themes. Starting off this calendar year, Elegant began accomplishing these beneficial capabilities at a higher selling price: according to program engineer Robert Heaton, the extension commenced sending users’ finish browsing action back to its servers by default, alongside with a unique identifier that in numerous scenarios could be utilized to correlate e-mail addresses or other Web characteristics belonging to individuals end users.

An updated Trendy privacy policy disclosed that the extension collected browsing histories. The version posted in Could, for occasion, stated that the details integrated “standard web server log facts (i.e., internet ask for) as properly as facts sent in reaction to that request, this sort of as URL made use of, World-wide-web Protocol tackle (trimmed and hashed for anonymization), HTTP referrer, and user agent.” Various posts from January, 2017, also observed the monitoring but, citing a new proprietor of the extension, these articles said it would be anonymous. (This in spite of the reality that a lot of URLs, especially when saved in massive quantities around a extensive period of time of time, can make it painfully evident which individual is viewing them.)

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