Upcoming Changes to Google Chrome Could Kill Ad Blockers

This isn’t the kind of talk Google really needs going on. It’s already a well-earned tag on them that they care more about selling than they do about having a good user experience. And now a plan for the newest version of the Chrome web browser could kill or severely limit ad blocker extensions under the guise of improving privacy and guarding security.

Google may be in need of some better P.R. after this. Several ad-blocking extensions are being targeted by this new version of the Chrome web browser, according to the company’s developers.

These include ad-blocker uBlock Origin, tracker blocker Ghostery, privacy and password manager Privowny, Javascript software blocker NoScript, and malware blocker F-Secure.

Google is fighting back and defending themselves against the news, insisting they just want to improve Chrome while keeping all those extensions working.

“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,” said Google in a statement.

Bad P.R. could hurt them a great deal. The Chrome browser accounts for 62 percent of website usage currently. However, if problems arise, extension authors and website developers could be out of luck with the Web traffic attributed to Chrome.

It could have far-reaching effects as well on other browsers — Vivaldi, Opera, Brave, and soon Microsoft Edge — as they’re built on the open-source version of Chrome, Chromium.

While browser extensions let you do a variety of things, both needed and unneeded, ad-blocking extensions are in demand. uBlock Origin alone has been installed more than ten million times.

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“This would basically mean that Google is destroying ad blocking and privacy protection as we know it,” said Ghostery developer Cliqz in a statement.

“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.”

A plan to improve extensions as a whole was revealed last October. Only now are developers noticing that a certain part of it called Manifest v3 could harm ad blockers.

Manifest v3 is designed to improve the performance, privacy, and security of Chrome extensions. But one part limits how extensions will be able to examine websites. An extension can check if website elements originate from a list of advertising sources.

Blockade.io, an extension designed to protect users after they click on malicious links, “will cease to function,” under Manifest v3, according to. Brandon Dixon, who maintains the extension. “There is a 30K rule limit imposed, which is not enough to handle our ruleset (~250K),” he added.

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

“This design is still in a draft state and will likely change, noted Chrome team member Devlin Cronin in a mailing list response. “Our goal is not to break extensions.”

Regardless of Cronin’s thoughts and what the intention is with these changes, many will still see this as just another attempt by Google to sell ads because killing off ad blockers seems to only help them in the end run.

Is that how you interpret this upcoming change to Google Chrome and how it handles ad-blocking extensions? Let us know your thoughts on the change in the comments below.

5 comments

  1. Google, like the Great Oz, is telling us to disregard the man behind the curtain.

    “Whether Google does this to protect their advertising business or simply to force its own rules on everyone else”
    As if this was the first time Google was throwing its weight around. Where does an 800 lbs gorilla sit? ANYWHERE it wants! For years Microsoft was viewed as the Evil Empire. Looks like Google is pushing them aside and taking over the title.

  2. At least in my mind, this article equates Google Chrome with Chromium. As I understand it, Chromium is not owned or controlled by Google, so these proposed changes would not apply to Chromium. Perhaps the author can clarify that. Also, I think the other browsers mentioned are based on Chromium and not Chrome. Which means that they are not necessarily at risk.

  3. “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,”

    Which means: absolutely nothing. It’s business gibberish from 1990 which matches well the bubble kids arrested social development. They truly treat users like morons. Morons who will continue to use whatever extensions to block googles blocking of blockers. FB tried this, too. Won’t work.

    • ” They truly treat users like morons.”
      More and more people are using Google’s apps every day because those apps are conveniently integrated. Whether they are morons is a matter of opinion. However, they are following the path of least resistance.

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