I use the paid version of Internet Download Manager (IDMan), which I set to notify me when a download has completed by letting rip a triumphant bird tweet!
For some reason Google Chrome stopped working on my XP Home a few days ago: a total uninstall and complete re-install made no difference; but Google Chrome gives me no problems whatever on my Windows 7. It's counterpart, Comodo Dragon works well on my XP but I do not have it installed on my W. 7. Dragon is synced to Google Chrome by means of Google+ Dashboard, and yesterday, when I opened Dragon Browser on my XP, my ear drums were assaulted by a continuous stream of frantic bird tweets, yet my IDMan showed no downloads taking place - very odd indeed. The tweeting continued unabated this morning - but only on my XP. My W. 7 IDMan, set to deliver the identical tweet, has remained silent. (Is this a harbinger of attacks on the old XP?)
I have never before heard this happening - it's something totally new. I disabled all the Google extensions on Dragon except for WOT, AdBlock Plus/Pro, Avast!, Page Rank and one or two others. The tweeting stopped immediately... and has not resumed whilst composing this reply on my XP. (Syncing takes place through my modem, as both my XP and W. 7 are connected to the internet through the same modem - my two PCs are not networked)
I take it Google is not responsible for this, what with it's DO NO EVIL policy, the available extensions in the Google Store all being third party stuff???
I am horrified by the information given us in your jolly good article, and I feel the same as you: no one, but no one has any shadow of right to spy on my PC activities - my PCs are my PRIVATE PROPERTY, and not available for public scrutiny or unauthorized use of any kind. Especially not for these advertisement vulture-boys, which is why I avoid freeware bundled with dreadful programs like Open Candy etc etc.
You have done us a GREAT service by your bringing this horrible development to our attention, and I hope the DO NO EVIL, Google, will take steps to remove offending extensions from its store - in keeping with the Google Policy.
Thank you for letting us know - I appreciate your efforts and resultant sleep deprivation very much, I'm sure I speak for ALL of us.