Google Chrome browser update may kill ad blockers soon

Google Chrome browser update may kill ad blockers soon”

Changes will also be able to block useful extensions, warns The Register. This change is directly aimed at how ad-blockers work. As Ars Technica details, webRequest allows extensions to evaluate each network request that the extension is meant to monitor and to make decisions about what happens to it. Requests can be modified in-flight to change how the browser behaves in a wide variety of scenarios. So, this API will now be able to only read, and not modify, network requests. The company says that the changes are necessary for and motivated by a desire to crack down on malicious extensions, which undermine users' privacy and security, as part of the company's continued efforts to make extensions safer.

Often, it said, when add-ons examine incoming data, web pages take longer to load.

If this (quite limited) declarativeNetRequest API ends up being the only way content blockers can accomplish their duty, this essentially means that two content blockers I have maintained for years, uBlock Origin ("uBO") and uMatrix, can no longer exist. The Chromium team developed an API to try and keep some of those features, but apparently, they modeled it after the architecture of AdBlocker Plus, hence it will severely hamper the implementation of more sophisticated extensions like uBlock Origin and EasyList.

The changes could "destroy" ad-blockers, said one maker of widely-used blocking software. It removes the functionality that many blockers now use, called the webRequest API, and replaces it with the declarativeNetRequest API.

Raymond Hill, the developer behind uBlock Origin and uMatrix posted on the Chromium bug tracker that changes suggested by the Manifest v3 proposal would wreck his ad and content block extensions while simultaneously restricting content control by users. It essentially allows the extension to monitor, analyze and block web traffic.

Google Chrome's previous versions have focused on improving experience by removing bad ads.

The proposed modification would promote static filtering capabilities that are compatible with AdBlock Plus and would limit the number of filters to 30,000. Among those paying Adblock Plus for whitelist access are Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others.

"By implementing a new manifest version, we can enforce certain best practices, ban negative practices, and provide a clear migration path for developers".

"This design is still in a draft state, and will likely change", said Devlin Cronin, a Google software engineer on a message board discussing the changes. "With such a limited declarativeNetRequest API and the depreciation of blocking the ability of the webRequest API, I am skeptical "user agent" will still be a proper category to classify Chromium".

In response, Google told PCMag that the proposed change has not been made final.

The Manifest V3 document is still in the proposal stage, and after the news of the proposed changes reached the news Google has specified that the document is "not set in stone".

"Even though we don't know the exact plans for this proposed change, should it get implemented we'll make sure ABP is available for Chrome users".

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