The New Chrome Policies Make Ad Blockers Difficult To Use.

by | Mar 7, 2024

Ad blockers and other privacy solutions for the Chrome browser will stop functioning in January 2019 if they depend on the Manifest v2 API (MV2). As of now, rewriting these extensions to operate with Chrome’s new Manifest v3 (MV3) API has resulted in sluggish software that doesn’t perform so well.

Google’s Overview Of Manifest V3 :

“Manifest V3 (Manifest V3) is a major step forward in steering towards our vision for the extensions platform. Manifest V3 focuses on the three pillars of that vision: privacy, security, and performance, while preserving and improving our foundation of capability and webbiness.”

In order to address the security, privacy, and performance effects of its MV2 extension architecture, Google started developing a new API for Chromium browser extensions in 2018. Ad blockers and other similar extensions have too much access to and influence over the sites you currently have open in your browser, in Google’s opinion, under the MV2 regime.

You may also like to read this article explains how Google is crippling VPN applications in the name of MV3 implementation.

When you visit these pages, if one of these add-ons goes rogue, it can collect a variety of private information about you.

Its successor specification, MV3, eliminated potent but possibly vulnerable features including the ability to intercept and modify page request requests, which was a handy tool for extensions that aimed to protect your privacy and security by preventing requests to trackers, spyware, and advertisements.

Developers that maintain or create privacy and content filtering extensions discovered they would need to reconsider how, if at all, their code would function under the new guidelines and API.Since MV3 started to take shape – it is still a changing goal – privacy-focused developers and advocacy organisations have cautioned that Google’s apparent privacy promotion efforts (by restricting data access and enforcing permissions) could hurt extensions that support privacy.

MV3 now represents a regression rather than an advancement in terms of what browser extensions can achieve, according to two recent studies by the developers of well-known content blocking extensions.

On Tuesday, the source code for an experimental version that uses MV3 was made public by Raymond Hill, the man behind one of the most well-known privacy addons on the market, uBlock Origin. He refers to the version as “uBO Minus”which may be seen as a statement of his expectations.

In order to restrict content, uBO Minus uses the declarativeNetRequest API in MV3. The webRequest API from MV2 has been replaced by this function. This API allowed a JavaScript event handler to alter network requests and served as the main method for intercepting undesired network material.

According to Hill’s commit text, declarativeNetRequest is used by his extension to comply with Google’s stated intention for MV3 to not need the wide “read/modify data” permission. This method avoids informing the user of the extension during installation that the loaded code can “Read and update all your data on all websites” — a warning that, although it may seem alarming, is often what you want when using an add-on that cleans up every website you visit.

However, because of this “permission-less” strategy, the extension is unable to do tasks enabled by uBlock Origin, such as filtering or custom JavaScript injection of redirects, CSP (content security policy) directives, URL parameters, and purely aesthetic page components.

According to Hill, implementing the ad giant’s vision results in a poor content-blocking extension. “At this point I consider being permission-less the limiting factor: if broad “read/modify data” permission is to be used, then there is not much benefit to using an MV3 version over an MV2 if you want to take advantage of all the features that can’t be implemented without broad “read/modify data” permission,” the author wrote.

When Chrome stops supporting extensions based on Manifest v2, that advise will no longer be valid as of January. That’s probably the case for anyone using Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari, both of which supported Manifest v3 for their respective browsers. Despite the fact that doing so will demand some resources, outliers like Brave and Mozilla have stated they want to keep supporting MV2. Brave, for instance, won’t be able to utilise the Chrome Web Store and will have to start its own extension store.

AdGuard’s Dmitriy Seregin gave a significantly more optimistic assessment of his company’s efforts to develop AdGuard AdBlocker MV3 Experimental.

The mandated code change deadline is drawing near, yet Manifest v3 still appears to be a step backward.