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posted by janrinok on Friday June 10, @11:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the manifest-destiny dept.

Ad-block developers fear end is near for their extensions:

Seven months from now, assuming all goes as planned, Google Chrome will drop support for its legacy extension platform, known as Manifest v2 (Mv2). This is significant if you use a browser extension to, for instance, filter out certain kinds of content and safeguard your privacy.

Google's Chrome Web Store is supposed to stop accepting Mv2 extension submissions sometime this month. As of January 2023, Chrome will stop running extensions created using Mv2, with limited exceptions for enterprise versions of Chrome operating under corporate policy. And by June 2023, even enterprise versions of Chrome will prevent Mv2 extensions from running.

The anticipated result will be fewer extensions and less innovation, according to several extension developers.

Browser extensions such as Ghostery Privacy Ad Blocker, uBlock Origin, and Privacy Badger, along with scripting extensions including TamperMonkey, which are each designed to block adverts and other content and/or protect one's privacy online, are expected to function less effectively, if they can even make the transition from Mv2 to the new approach: Manifest v3.

"If you asked me if we can have a Manifest v3 version of Privacy Badger, my answer is yes, we can and we will," said Alexei Miagkov, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a phone interview with The Register. "But the problem is more insidious. It's that Manifest v3 caps the certain capabilities of extensions and cuts off innovation potential."

Google argues otherwise and maintains its platform renovation will meet developers' needs, including those making tools for content blocking and privacy. The internet titan, which declined to comment on the record, maintains that Mv3 aims to improve privacy by limiting extensions' access to sensitive data and that it has been working with extension developers to balance their needs with those of users.

Google points to past endorsements, such as remarks provided by Sofia Lindberg, tech lead of ad amelioration biz Eyeo, which makes Adblock Plus. "We've been very pleased with the close collaboration established between Google's Chrome Extensions Team and our own engineering team to ensure that ad-blocking extensions will still be available after Manifest v3 takes effect."

[...] Google began work on Manifest v3, the successor to Mv2, in late 2018, ostensibly to make extensions more secure, performant, and private. The company's extension platform renovation was necessary – because extension security problems were rampant – and immediately controversial. An ad company making security claims that, coincidentally, hinder user-deployed content and privacy defenses looks like self-interest.

And Mv3 remains the subject of ongoing debate as the extension platform capabilities and APIs continue to be hammered out. But it has been adopted, with some caveats, by other browser makers, including Apple and Mozilla. Makers of Chromium-based browsers inherit Mv3 and Microsoft has already endorsed the new spec.

Others building atop Chromium like Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi have indicated interest in continuing to support Mv2, though it's unclear whether that will be practical beyond June of next year. If Google removes the Mv2 code from Chromium, maintaining the code in a separate Chromium fork may prove to be too much trouble.


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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Opportunist on Friday June 10, @12:50PM

    by Opportunist (5545) on Friday June 10, @12:50PM (#1252167)

    Because ad companies get smarter, too. They now want to hear back from your browser that it got their ad crap and if they don't hear back from you, they inform the site they infect that you're not playing nice with them and if the website wants their money, they shouldn't play nice with you. So your browser plugin has to pretend to the ad that it actually pestered you with their bullshit to tell the website with the content you want that it should no longer hold it hostage.

    In other words, blocking ads at router level isn't going to work for many pages. You need to have the browser do the supersecret handshake with the ad hijacker holding your content hostage and dupe it into thinking you were properly badgered with their advertising.

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