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Google has slightly backtracks on Chrome changes that break the ad blocker



Google said it will alter the proposed changes to the Chrome API extension that may destroy or reduce the functionality of a wide range of ad blocking extensions to ensure that the current one is different other content block extensions are preserved, in response to a wide range of developers and users of those extensions. The company maintains that "It is not or has never been, our goal to prevent or break the content block" [emphasis Google’s] and it will work to update its proposal to address the ability to gaps and pain points.

The advertising company is planning to adjust its extension interface, among other things, increase user privacy, make it more difficult for extensions to commit bad actions, and make more browser performance is consistent. Together, this document is documented as the Manifest V3.

One of these changes is particularly severe consequences for ad blockers. Currently, ad blockers use extensive use of an API named webRequest . This API allows extensions to check every single network request made by one page and either modify it (in, for example, redirect it to another address or add or remove cookies), i Block it in full, or allow it to continue uninterrupted. It has both a huge impact on privacy (seen by an extension and steal your cookies and therefore disguise as you are) and, Google said, some performance effects, such as every single network request (which may have twelve -free on a single page) wait for the extension to perform its analysis.

Google proposes that instead, ad blockers can provide a browser with a list of blocked sites and the browser itself enforces blocking, using a new API called declarativeNetRequest . This restricts the use of more complex algorithms, and the size of this list is limited to 30,000 entries-much less commonly used by many ad blockers.

This change may use many ad blockers, along with other legitimate extensions using the same API. For example, there are extensions that block phishing sites or URLs known to distribute malware. Although their purpose is different, they work the same way as ad blockers, and are also at risk by proposed changes.

Performance is not always a problem

Developers of the Ghostery extension together have some benchmarks that measure the overhead imposed by some ad-blocking extensions. The models do not try full extensions, but instead use engines that prevent the requesting extensions running within the Node.js JavaScript runtime, which measures the performance of nearly a quarter of a million requests, of which about 20 percent were blocked. [1

9659002] The results show that while some blockers could introduce a significant performance delay-a version of the DuckDuckGo blocker had a median delay of 8 milliseconds-overhead from Ghostery, uBlock Origin, and Adblock Plus are negligible, all entering well under a tenth of a millisecond. However, while Google's performance rationale has no merit, it has blocked all such extensions because some performed poorly feeling heavy-even other concerns over the current extension platform, privacy, retention.

Google's pushback response makes some concessions to developers, though far from a complete reversal. The company intends to limit the webRequest API, and extensions are still moved to declarativeNetRequest . However, both changes to this API work permanently. The new declarativeNetRequest will have its capabilities: extensions can use dynamic blocklists (where blacklisted URLs will be added and will be removed at runtime), and the total size of the blocklist will be increased from to 30,000 (although Google maintains that there will be some limitations, and blockers should strive to remove obsolete URLs from their block lists).

Google also wants to allow more flexible blocking criteria such as resource size, and to investigate ways to allow changing requests. However, this response also implies some of the changes that extensions may make using other APIs, and therefore do not need to be part of declarativeNetRequest and are not grounds for maintaining the current webRequest API.

The company also emphasizes that the Manifest V3 remains a development work, and even when the Manifest V3 enters production, there will be a transition period. The current Manifest V2 platform can not be removed until the Manifest V3 is good enough. As things seem, it seems that extension developers have not been able to do all they can to do in webRequest but may cover more of their bases than the initial proposal that is permitted. [19659012]
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