Chrome’s ‘Manifest V3’ plan to limit ad-blocking extensions delayed

The plan

For several years, Google has wanted to kill Chrome’s current extension system in favor of a more limited system, creating more restrictions on filtering extensions that block ads and/or work to preserve user privacy. user. The new expansion system, technically called “Manifest V3” hit the stable channel in January 2021, but Chrome still supports the older, more powerful system, Manifest V2. The first steps towards the end of Manifest V2 were supposed to start in January 2023, but as 9to5Google spotted for the first time, Google say now it delayed the mandatory upgrade to Manifest V3 and won’t even have a new schedule for a V2 shutdown ready until March.

The old timeline started in January 2023, when beta versions of Chrome would start running “experiments” that disable Manifest V2. This would transition to stable in June, with the Chrome Web Store banning Manifest V2 extensions in January 2024. The new timeline is that there is no timeline, and each milestone is now listed as “postponed” or “in progress.” review course”.

In a publication Commenting on the delay, Chrome extensions developer attorney Simeon Vincent said, “We’ve heard your comments about common migration challenges, particularly the service worker’s inability to use DOM features and the current hard limit on extension service agent lifetimes. We are mitigating the former with the Offscreen Documents API (added in Chrome 109) and actively pursuing a solution to the latter.” After adding that every stage of the schedule is pending, Vincent said, “Expect to hear more about the updated phase-out plan and schedule by March 2023.”

Google’s statement only addresses the second controversial Manifest V3 change: disabling an extension’s ability to launch a hidden background page due to background processing. Google wants all background processing to happen in service workers, but that’s a complicated environment compared to normal web development and comes with many more limitations. Google’s delay is only trying to fix some of these background limitations.

The new Manifest V3 timeline, which only says that everything is delayed.
Enlarge / The new Manifest V3 timeline, which only says that everything is delayed.

Google

Google’s post doesn’t mention filtering add-ons, so it doesn’t look like the world’s largest advertising company is changing its mind about ad blockers. The big problem for these extensions is killing the “WebRequest API”, which allows ad blockers and other filtering tools to modify Chrome’s network requests on the fly. Usually this is used to create huge lists of websites (ad servers) that extensions want to block access to. Google has kind of thrown these extensions a bone by creating a new API that allows for a limited list of URL blocking, but it’s only a static list of 30,000 URLs, whereas a typical uBlock install Origin comes with 300,000 dynamic filter rules. Some ad blockers will try to adhere to these rules with the Manifest V3 release, but Google will erode their effectiveness and don’t want to implement any of the common sense solutions that would allow them to continue operating at the current level.

“Misleading and threatening”

Google started this mess in 2018 with a blog post outlining a plan for “trustworthy Chrome extensions, by default.” As part of the Manifest V3 rollout, Google’s official story is that it wanted to reduce the “overbroad access” given to extensions and that a more limited extension platform would “enable higher performing extensions” . The fun side effect of all this is more limited ad blocking, which would conveniently help Google results. The old timeline would have ultimately implemented the full transition from Manifest V3 six years after that first blog post, but now it looks like it will take even longer.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation doesn’t buy Google’s sales pitch and called Manifest V3″deceptive and threateningabout a year ago. EFF said Manifest V3 “will restrict the capabilities of web extensions, especially those designed to monitor, modify, and compute alongside your browser’s conversation with the websites you visit. “Dodgy Mv3 will also do a lot for security” as it only limits website content filtering, not collection, so malicious extensions could still suck up all your data. a study showing that downloading and rendering advertisements degrades browser performance. If Google is worried about security, it could have more control over the extension store.

The Chrome team seems to be on a heel turn lately. The group has also refused to block tracking cookies until it can first create a tracking and advertising system in Chrome (this has also been delayed several times). If people are tired of the user-unfriendly changes to Chrome that support Google’s business model, there are alternatives. Some Chromium-based forks like Brave and Vivaldi have committed to keeping Manifest V2 running when Google shuts it down. Of course, there’s also always Firefox, which says it will move to Manifest V3 with Google, but add back the WebRequest API that filtering add-ons rely on.

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