Google makes Chrome devs dig into pockets

By Gregg Keizer at Computerworld – Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:09pm EDT

Computerworld – Google on Thursday announced that it would require new Chrome extension developers to pay a one-time $5 registration fee as a way to stymie malicious add-ons for its browser.

The company also launched a preview of its Chrome Web Store, giving developers a chance to experiment with the online mart before it goes public later this year. Developers can use the store to give away or sell theirbrowser extensions, themes and Web apps.

“[The signup fee] is intended to create better safeguards against fraudulent extensions in the gallery and limit the activity of malicious developer accounts,” said product manager Gregor Hochmuth in a blog post.

The payment must be made using Google Checkout, which links payments to a credit card, thereby creating a paper trail to the developer — or at least to the billing address and phone number recorded by the credit card company.

By charging the fee, “Google gets some more information about the human on the other end [of the developer account],” said Andrew Storms, director of security at nCircle Security. “It adds some legitimacy to the developer.”

A Chrome rival noted the paper trail aspect of the new registration fee, too. “Someone pointed out the $5 registration fee for Chrome Extension Gallery creates a paper trail, which is a good point,” said Mike Beltzner, Mozilla’s director of Firefox development, in a Twitter message on Thursday.

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