When you install an extension in Chrome, it shows you a comprehensive list of the permissions it needs to run. You can accept or decline to give it permissions. If you choose to decline giving the extension permissions, it won’t install. That makes it seem like you don’t have much choice however, you can restrict extensions to select websites once you install them. Here’s how.
Restrict extensions’ website access
Open Chrome and click the more options button at the top right corner, next to the URL bar. From the menu, select More tools>Extensions.
The Chrome extensions page lists all the extensions that are installed. Click the Details button under the extension that you want to restrict. On the extension’s details’ page, scroll down to the Permissions section and you will see a dropdown called “Allow this extension to read and change all your data on websites you visit”.
Open it and select the ‘On specific sites’ option. A pop-up will open asking you to enter the URL for the websites you want to run the extension on. You can also select the On Click option.
The On Click option is actually a pretty good way to control website access for an extension. When you select this option, the extension will not be able to access your information on a website until and unless you click its icon. This makes it easy to allow the extension permission to run on a site on the fly though, revoking access isn’t as easy.
This setting, or rather the fall out of the setting may result in the extension not working correctly. For example, if you have an extension that needs to access your information on Facebook even if you don’t have it open, and you revoke its access to it, you may not be able to use it on other websites. In such a case, you will have to give the extension free reign.
Regardless of what an extension does, you should always critically examine any and all permissions that an extension needs. An extension may say it needs to access your data on all websites but most say that so they can run on any website without any problems. The extension assumes you will need to run it on all websites and hence the ask for blanket permission.
It’s a shame that users cannot selectively allow an extension permission when they’re being installed but again, it may be more a technical limitation than Google being careless.
If you’re weary of extensions, you might want to prevent users from installing them on a shared system.