Chrome Web Store review process

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This document provides an overview of the Chrome Web Store review process and the enforcement actions that are taken when an extension violates the Chrome Web Store's policies. The enforcement practices described in this document are accurate as of the document's last updated date and are subject to change without notification.

See Lifecycle of a Chrome Web Store item for an overview of how reviews fit in the lifecycle.

The review process helps protect end users from scams, data harvesting, malware, and malicious actors seeking to take advantage of Chrome users, as well as from extensions that inadvertently violate policy.

The basics

When you submit an extension for review, the review team will review the extension for compliance with the developer program policies and, if any violations are found, take appropriate enforcement actions.

Existing items are also reviewed periodically for compliance. We do this because the extension ecosystem is constantly evolving; as malicious actors evolve their attacks or exploits are discovered, the review process must also evolve in response. Also, as the developer program policies change, we need to ensure that existing published items comply with current policy in order to protect end users.

Review times

Chrome Web Store review times can vary. In early 2021, most submissions completed review in less than 24 hours, with over 90% completed within three days.

If your extension is pending review for more than three weeks, please contact developer support to request assistance.

The review process uses a combination of manual and automated systems. All submissions go through the same review system, regardless of the tenure of the developer or number of active users. However, some signals may cause the reviewer to examine an extension more closely, including:

  • new developers
  • new extensions
  • dangerous permission requests
  • significant code changes

These signals may therefore cause the review to take longer. Review times may also be longer than normal after an extension has been rejected or warned.

Notable factors that increase review time

Reviews may take longer for extensions that request broad host permissions or sensitive execution permissions, or which include a lot of code or hard-to-review code.

Broad host permissions
Host permissions patterns like *://*/*, https://*/*, and <all_urls> give extensions extensive access to the user's web activity, especially when combined with other permissions. Extensions with this kind of access can collect a user's browsing history, hijack web search behavior, scrape data from banking websites, harvest credentials, or exploit users in other ways.
Sensitive execution permissions
Permissions grant extensions special data access and manipulation rights. Some permissions do this directly (for example, tabs and downloads) while others must be combined with host permissions grants (for example, cookies and webRequest). Review must verify that each requested permission is actually necessary and is used appropriately. Requesting powerful and potentially dangerous capabilities takes more time to review.
Amount and formatting of code
The more code an extension contains, the more work it takes to verify that code is safe. Obfuscation is disallowed as it increases the complexity of the validation process. Minification is allowed, but it can also make reviewing extension code more difficult. Where possible, consider submitting your code as authored. You may also want to consider structuring your code in a way that is easy for others to understand.

Review outcomes

There are a number of possible pass/no-pass outcomes, depending on whether it's a publishing review or a periodic re-review. These outcomes are described in the following sections.

Publishing review outcomes

This section describes how we handle policy violations that we find while reviewing an extension submitted for publishing.

Existing published items may also be checked for these same violations; that process is described in the Periodic review outcomes section.

Publish review requests have two basic outcomes.

  • No violations are found: The submission is approved and can be published to the Chrome Web Store.
  • A violation is found: The submission is rejected and the developer is informed why.

See Developer communication for details on how these outcomes are communicated back to the developer and how developers can contact the review team regarding the outcome.

Finally, a third potential outcome is that the submission is found to contain malware or another extreme policy violation. See the malware section for details on how these verdicts are enforced.

Periodic review outcomes

This section describes how policy violations are handled during the periodic review process. Note that a violation identified during the publishing review process may trigger a re-review of the currently published version of the extension.

Illustration of    potential review outcomes and policy enforcement practices. Text details found in the 'Periodic    review outcomes' and 'Violation enforcement' sections.

Existing published extensions are occasionally subject to review outside of the standard submission time review process. Possible reasons for this include, but are not limited to regular periodic review, review triggered by a violation observed in a new submission, and user reports of unexpected or malicious behavior.

There are four outcomes for review of a published item:

  • No violations are found: No action is taken. The extension remains on the Chrome Web Store.
  • A minor violation is found: A warning is sent to the developer about the violation. The developer has a set amount of time to address the violation before the item will be taken down. See warning for more information.
  • A more serious violation is found: The extension is immediately taken down and the developer is notified of the violation. See takedown for more information.
  • An extreme issue is found: The extension is immediately taken down and the developer is not notified. See malware for more information.

See Developer communication for details on how this is communicated and how to appeal the verdict.

Violation enforcement

In the event that a policy violation is identified during the review process, the Chrome Web Store will take appropriate action depending on the type of review being performed, the severity of violation, the discretion of the reviewer, and potentially other factors.

Rejection

Rejection can occur in response to a "Submit for review" request. If the submission is found to violate Chrome Web Store policy but is not an egregious policy violation, the submission will be rejected.

In some cases, a violation detected in a submission may trigger a review of the published extension. If the violation is also found in the published version of the extension, additional enforcement actions may be taken.

Rejection applies only when the submission is not found to contain malware or other extreme policy violation. If an extension is found to contain malware during the submission review process, proceed directly to malware enforcement.

Developer communication
The publisher email address associated with the extension will be sent an email stating that the submission was rejected. The rejection emails will state which policy the extension violated and provide the developer with guidance on how to appeal the verdict.
Chrome Web Store listing
The extension's listing in the Chrome Web Store is not affected; the description text, image assets, privacy disclosures, and published CRX all remain unchanged.
Chrome UI
End users are not notified when a submission is rejected.

Warning

If a currently published item is found to contain minor policy violations, Chrome Web Store Review will notify the extension publisher of the violation via email. Depending on the violation, the publisher are typically given 7 to 30 days to address the issue(s). The extension developer can resolve the warning by submitting a new version of the extension that fixes the violation(s) using the standard submission process. If the violation is not addressed within the warning period, the extension will be taken down.

The following information only covers the warning period. See Takedown for additional information on takedown handling.

Developer communication

The publisher email address associated with the extension will be sent a warning email stating that the extension will be taken down due to one or more policy violations. The exact length of the warning period depends on the observed violation.

If the developer does not resolve the violation(s) within the warning period, the publisher will receive another email explaining that the warning period expired and that the extension has been taken down. See Developer communication for additional information about email communication.

Chrome Web Store listing

The extension's Chrome Web Store listing is not affected during the warning period. The item will remain available for download and existing users will be able to update to the most recent successfully published version of the extension.

Chrome UI

End users are not notified during the warning period.

Takedown

Takedown refers to the act of removing an extension from the Chrome Web Store. In most situations takedowns are not permanent: the extension's publisher can return the extension to the web store by submitting a new version that resolves the policy violation and passing the review process.

Takedowns occur in two primary scenarios. First, immediate takedowns occur when reviewers detect one or more policy violations of moderate or greater severity in the published version of an extension. Second, delayed takedowns occur after the warning period for a minor policy violation expires. In both cases, the impact of the takedown is the same.

Developer communication
The publisher email address associated with the extension will be sent an email stating that the extension has been taken down due to one or more policy violations. In the case of an expired warning, the email will include a reference to the warning email the developer previously received.
Chrome Web Store listing
When an extension is taken down, it will no longer be available in the Chrome Web Store. If normal users attempt to access the extension's listing, Chrome Web Store will return a 404 error. If the developer that owns the extension or a member of the extension's group publisher list (if there is one) is logged into the Chrome Web Store, they will see the last published version of the extension and a warning at the top of the window indicating that the extension has been taken down. Additionally, the item will not appear in Chrome Web Store search results, collections, category listings, or elsewhere in the Chrome Web Store's consumer UI.
Chrome UI
End users are not notified of the enforcement action immediately after takedown. If the violation remains unresolved for several weeks, Chrome will automatically disable the extension and notify the end user that the extension violates Chrome Web Store policy. Users may choose to re-enable the extension if they wish.

Malware and extreme violations

The Chrome Web Store Review team has special procedures for egregious policy violations. In cases such as malware distribution, deceptive behavior designed to evade review, repeated severe violations indicative of malicious intent, and other egregious policy violations, more drastic measures are necessary.

To limit the potential for these developers to further harm users, the Chrome Web Store team intentionally does not provide details regarding these violations. Additionally, in more severe cases the developer's Chrome Web Store account will be permanently suspended.

Developer communication
Unlike other enforcement actions, notification is not sent to the publisher's email address when the extension(s) are taken down. In the event that the developer's Chrome Web Store account is suspended, the developer will be sent an email to notify them of that enforcement action.
Chrome Web Store listing
Just as with a takedown, the offending item is removed from the Chrome Web Store.
Chrome UI
The violating extension is disabled on all end user devices. Unlike standard takedowns, these extensions cannot be re-enabled. Chrome notifies the user that the extension has been disabled because it was found to contain malware. Users may choose to remove the extension or dismiss the dialog.

Developer communication

The Chrome Web Store review process has two primary ways of communicating with developers: automated emails sent to the extension publisher's email address and support tickets.

Support tickets must be opened using the One Stop Support form, but once a ticket is opened all communication takes place over email.

Automated emails

In all but the most extreme policy violations, the Chrome Web Store will send developers automated emails informing them about the violation observed and the enforcement action taken. These emails state what policy or policies were violated, link to troubleshooting documentation related to the violation, and provide the developer with guidance on how to appeal the verdict.

One Stop Support

The One Stop Support contact form provides Chrome Web Store publishers with a single contact point to request assistance with a variety of issues.

Appealing a review verdict

Use the following steps to appeal a takedown or warning.

  1. Open the One Stop Support contact form.
  2. Select "My item (extensions, app, or theme)".
  3. Select "My item was warned / removed / rejected".
  4. Select why you are appealing, and the reference color and element.
  5. Review the violation troubleshooting guidance.
  6. Provide additional details as requested by the form.

Appealing an account suspension

Use the following steps to appeal a developer account suspension.

  1. Open the One Stop Support contact form.
  2. Select "My developer account".
  3. Select "My account was suspended".
  4. Provide additional details as requested by the form.

A few minutes after submitting a support request, you should receive an email with a unique ID for your support request. Depending on the size of the support queue and the specific violation, it may take up to three days to receive a reply. If you do not receive a response within that period, you can reply to the initial case email to request an update.

Please only open one support request per enforcement action. Multiple support requests makes it more difficult for the agents assisting you to find and keep track of all of the relevant information about your issue.

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