Google Says It is Not Killing Ad Blockers

Google Claims Chrome'Isn't Killing Ad Blockers, But'Making Them Safer

Google Claims Chrome'Isn't Killing Ad Blockers, But'Making Them Safer

Google is busy working away on Chrome 76, and the beta version of the browser includes a change that will please anyone looking to bypass paywalls and view articles for free. The company plans on releasing a developer preview of the Chrome changes in the coming months.

We are not preventing the development of ad blockers or stopping users from blocking ads.

All of this drama about "Google crippling ad blockers" started back in October 2018, when Google announced major changes to the Chrome extensions ecosystem.

Currently, Chrome has several rules in place in its design to control the flow of data through extensions.

All of the Manifest V3 changes were detailed in a 19-page "design document" that the browser maker published previous year. The search giant a year ago proposed the Manifest V3 standard that is created to replace the existing WebRequest API with the new DeclarativeNetRequest API to limit ad blocking capabilities of browser extensions.

But this change is controversial because so many popular extensions, especially ad blockers, rely on the Web Request API.

The privacy risk is obvious and apparent.

As a result, the company is limiting the API for what it claims to be a better alternative: The "Declarative Net Request API". The new browser will introduce other changes, including one that makes Flash use even more annoying in the browser. "The new API is not in itself a bad thing, but it becomes a bad thing when it's the only option because it lacks the flexibility that the Web Requests API provides".

To address the concerns, Google plans on revising the Net Request API to support a maximum of 150,000 rules.

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Google Chrome has been in the news for restricting ad blockers.

Should we trust Google this time?

Since Google's stated goal is to make ad blockers safer, The Register asked Google whether any ad blockers have actually abused webRequest.

"While this API is used by good actors to implement powerful features like content blockers, it can also be -and has been- abused", wrote Chrome extensions advocate Simeon Vincent in a separate blog post.

Further, some issues still remain. "Because we are able to cut substantial overhead in the browser, the Declarative Net Request API can have significant, system-level performance benefits over Web Request", Cronin said.

Extension developers have criticised the proposal that underlines a complete move to the new API.

What this means is that extensions that deal with web requests manipulation will most likely lose some of their accuracy in identifying the domains they want to block, and the circumstances they block or allow content to load. But Google says that continuing with the old and less secured WebRequest API alongside providing the new and more secured DeclarativeNetRequest API isn't possible.

However, Google has given in to various developer requests since January and has also promised today to look into other extension developer gripes. Chrome is now the most popular browser in the world.

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