Google has had enough of Chrome browser extensions that mine cryptocurrency using the processing power of users’ computers.
The company had already been taking down extensions that mine cryptocurrency without informing the extensions’ users—a practice known as cryptojacking. But now it’s targeting any extension that runs similar code, whatever the intentions of the people behind the plugin.
“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,” Google product manager James Wagner wrote in a blog post.
“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.”
The issue with such extensions is that their activity uses up a lot of the computer’s processing power, leaving less for the tasks that the user might be trying to actively perform on their PC. It’s also an electricity hog—the reason why some say Bitcoin mining is no longer profitable.
Most cryptomining extensions and sites are tailored to generate a cryptocurrency called Monero, which supports such activity in its design.
Wagner explained that Google would start delisting cryptocurrency-mining extensions in late June.
Does this mean web-based cryptomining is dead? Google’s Chrome has a browser market share of well above 50%, so the move will have some effect. However, it doesn’t stop websites themselves from mining cryptocurrency in people’s browsers—either surreptitiously or openly, as some media companies have been trying out as an alternative to making money through advertising.