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Google removes IAC Chrome extensions over 'deceptive' practices

IAC says Google has used its dominant position to "reduce our browser business to the last small corner of the internet"

Google has removed a number of Chrome extensions belonging to American holding company IAC, also known as InterActive Corp. 

The firm had allegedly violated Google's browser’s policies, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that IAC is accused of deceptive marketing practices.

According to documents reviewed by the publication, Google is considering imposing severe penalties on the conglomerate, which is the parent company of businesses such as online video hosting platform Vimeo as well as media outlets including Investopedia and Lifewire.

IAC is accused of misleading users about the nature of its browser extensions, which included promises of quick access to various content categories, from power-tool manuals to daily Bible quotations.

According to Engadget, a Google audit discovered that a portion of IAC’s Chrome-based voting ads didn’t redirect users to voter info, but instead installed the Ask.com toolbar as well as made changes to users’ default home page settings.

However, IAC denies the allegations of having breached Google’s extension policies. A company spokeswoman told Reuters that Google had “taken hundreds of millions of dollars (...) to advertise and distribute these products in the Chrome Store”.

“There’s nothing new here - Google has used their position to reduce our browser business to the last small corner of the internet, which they’re now seeking to quash,” she said, adding that Google had previously approved IAC’s extensions in the Chrome Store as part of the companies’ partnership agreement.

“Google exercises significant control over what we do with these products”, she said in the statement.

A Google spokesman told Reuters that the company is continuing “conversations with IAC related to Chrome Web Store policies” and confirmed to having “already removed a number of their extensions for violating [Google’s] policies”.

“We’re reviewing the remaining extensions and our enforcement options, and have not made a decision regarding IAC’s status on the store,” they added.

Google has been under constant fire over the last few days, facing considerable criticism for firing the co-lead of the company's Ethical AI team. The tech giant is also facing a major lawsuit for allegedly breaking competition laws.

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