Google Chrome will limit ad blockers from June 2024

Enlarge / Google is looking pretty run down these days.

Aurich Lawson

Chrome’s new ad blocking throttling expansion plan is still in effect. The company paused the rollout of the new “Manifest V3” extension format a year ago after an outcry over damage to some of Chrome’s most popular extensions. A year later, Google is restarting the phase-out schedule, and while some things have been changed, Chrome will eventually host lower-quality filtering extensions.

Google’s blog post indicates that the plan to remove Manifest V2, the current format for Chrome extensions, is back starting in June 2024. On that date (we will then be on “Chrome 127”), Google will deactivate Manifest V2 for the pre-release. -stable versions of Chrome: these are the Beta, Dev and Canary channels. Google says that “Manifest V2 extensions (will) be automatically disabled in their browser and will no longer be able to install Manifest V2 extensions from the Chrome Web Store.”

The timeline around the deployment of a stable channel is worded quite strangely. The company states: “We expect it will take at least a month to observe and stabilize changes in the pre-stable before expanding the deployment to the Chrome stable channel, where it will also be rolled out gradually over time. The exact timeline may vary depending on the data collected, and during this time we will keep you informed of our progress.” It’s not clear what “data” Google is interested in. It’s not the end of the world if an extension crashes: it turns off and stops working until the user restarts the extension. Perhaps the company is worried about how many people will use “Firefox” on Google once their ad blocker stops working.

Enterprise users with the “ExtensionManifestV2Availability” policy enabled will benefit from an additional year of compatibility with Manifest V2.

Google’s sales pitch for Manifest V3 is that by limiting extensions, the browser can be lighter on resources and Google can protect your privacy from extension developers. With more limited tools, however, you’ll be more exposed to the rest of the Internet, and a big part of the privacy-invading Internet is Google. The Electronic Frontier Foundation called Google’s description of Manifest V3 “misleading and threatening” and said it was “doubtful whether Mv3 does much for security.”

Firefox’s add-on operations manager also disagrees with claims of privacy benefits, saying that while malicious add-ons “are primarily interested in scraping incorrect data, they can always do it with the current webRequest API”. In a subsequent article, the EFF also points out that Google’s “fewer resources” argument doesn’t really hold water. Anyone can open Chrome’s Task Manager and find that a single website can take up a huge amount of memory, often on the order of 200MB or more. At the high end now for me, Slack consumes 500 MB, while a single Google Chat tab, created by this company which is SO concerned In terms of performance, it’s 1.5 GB of memory usage. Something like uBlock Origin, across all your tabs, is on the order of 80MB.

The only part of Manifest V3 that everyone can agree on is that it will harm ad blockers. Google adds a completely arbitrary limit to the number of “rules” that content filtering add-ons can include, which are necessary to keep pace with the nearly infinite ad serving sites that exist (incidentally, Ars Technica subscriptions let you provides an ad-free reading experience and makes a great holiday gift!). Google had initially opted for a completely crippling limit of 5,000 rules, and after widespread outrage during its first attempt to release Manifest V3, the company upgraded filtering to a “more generous” limit of 30,000 rules . uBlock Origin comes with around 300,000+ filter rules that you can enable, And you can also import additional blocklists and skyrocket that number.

As far as we can tell, there is no justification for arbitrarily limiting the list of filtering rules. Manifest V2 has no limits and works very well. Firefox also implements Manifest V3 – this is essentially necessary because Chrome is much more popular – but it does so without limits on filtering and other features. Mozilla’s blog post on the subject promises that “Firefox’s implementation of Manifest V3 ensures that users can access the most effective privacy tools available, like uBlock Origin and other content blocking and privacy extensions.” preservation of confidentiality. »

Once Manifest V3 launches, Chrome users will be limited to “uBlock Origin Lite”, while users will need to switch to Firefox or another unlimited browser to get the full extension. An FAQ about the project details how many feature regressions there will be. In addition to hard limits on filtering rule sets, there are now a host of other limits on filtering. Items cannot be filtered based on response headers or based on the URL in the address bar. Developers are more limited in the regular expressions they can use, as well as a host of other technical limitations.

Gn tech

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