Google removes privacy extension ClearURLs from Chrome Web Store

Google has removed the ClearURLs extension from the Chrome Web Store. According to the creator of the browser extension that removes tracking elements from links, Google gives nonsensical reasons for this.

ClearURLs was blocked by Google in the Chrome Web Store on Tuesday. As a result, users will no longer be able to download the extension. Developer Kevin Roebert confirms that on GitHub. He shows the message he got from Google, explaining why the extension has been blocked.

Google states, among other things, that the description of the extension is too detailed and therefore violates the conditions. Mentioning all the people who contributed to the extension is “confusing,” according to Google.

Also, the description does not mention the presence of the export-import function for the settings, the log function for debugging and the donate button. According to Google, that is misleading. In addition, Google has criticized the ‘clipboardWrite’ permission, which is said to be unnecessary. The developer contradicts that and says that he has clearly stated that.

CleanURLs has been available in the Chrome Web Store since 2019. The maker thinks that Google has removed its extension because it would be too popular and could harm Google’s business model. The extension prevents users from being tracked via URLs. Roebert has challenged Google’s decision and has adjusted the criticisms. Google has not yet responded.

ClearURLs is still available as an extension for Firefox and for Microsoft Edge. The link pointing to the Chrome version currently returns a 404 page. The source code of ClearURLs is on GitLab and the Chrome extension can also be downloaded there as a crx file.