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Google’s Chrome Updates May Break Adblockers

Posted by admin on February 7, 2019


For a few months already now, Google has announced some updates to its Chrome browser, mostly aimed at improving extension performance and utility. The update in question is the so called Manifest V3, which, in the words of Google “will entail additional platform changes that aim to create stronger security, privacy, and performance guarantees”.


However, developers are just now noticing the threat this could pose to extensions such as Adblocker, Ghostery or NoScript, which are all aimed at blocking ads, trackers and improving security and privacy while browsing the internet.


In a statement from the developer of the Ghostery extension, Cliqz, he stresses that “this would basically mean that Google is destroying ad blocking and privacy protection as we know it. Whether Google does this to protect their advertising business or simply to force its own rules on everyone else, it would be nothing less than another case of misuse of its market-dominating position. If this comes true, we will consider filing an antitrust complaint.”


The pressure is clearly mounting and although Google has tried to calm things down and assure everyone that they are doing their best not to hinder these extensions, concerns are still looming for the developers, as well as the users of these extensions: “We want to make sure all fundamental use cases are still possible with these changes and are working with extension developers to make sure their extensions continue to work while optimizing the extensions platform and better protecting our users,” the company said in a statement.


Manifest V3


The changes proposed through Manifest V3 limit the ability of extensions to check certain website elements. Usually, this would be done through analysing hundreds of thousands of advertising sources. However, Google is proposing a limit of 30,000. This is the main concern of the developers.


Browsers like Safari, Firefox, Opera and Brave all use Chromium, Google’s open source browser foundation. This means that the change could affect extensions on these browsers as well. Moreover, it just goes to show how much power lies in the hands of one company, who owns the monopoly on the internet browser industry.


The browser extension technology is “fully in the hands of Google, [which] can and will change it anytime based on its own interests only” Privowny’s Daniel Glazman said in a blog post.

Read more on the Manifest V3 changes here.