The days of easily blocking ads in Google Chrome may soon be over thanks to a proposed change to the browser's extensions system called Manifest V3 that Google announced back in January.
Manifest V3 would prevent current ad blockers from working efficiently and despite overwhelming negative feedback, the search giant is sticking to its guns concerning Chrome's ad blocking changes. However, enterprise users will not be affected and will be able to continue utilizing current ad blocking capabilities going forward.
Once Manifest V3 goes into effect, Chrome's extension system will see a revamp to its permissions system as well as a fundamental change to how ad blockers operate.
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Ad blockers such as uBlock Origin and Ghostery, which rely on Chrome's webRequest API to block ads before they're downloaded will no longer be able to do so as under the Manifest V3 proposal, Google will deprecate the API's ability to block requests before a page is loaded.
Now that months have passed since the changes were first proposed, Google has responded to some of the issues raised by the community by offering more details on how permissions and ad blockers will be affected.
Extensions developer advocate, Simeon Vincent clarified the company's changes to ad blocking and privacy blocking extensions in a Google Group (opens in new tab) discussing Chromium extensions, saying:
“Chrome is deprecating the blocking capabilities of the webRequest API in Manifest V3, not the entire webRequest API (though blocking will still be available to enterprise deployments).”
Essentially Google is saying that Chrome will still be able to block unwanted content but this feature will now be restricted to paid enterprise users. However, enterprise users will likely not be blocking ads and will instead develop in-house Chrome extensions that can block unwanted content for employees.
Now that ad blockers can no longer use the webRequest API, they'll have to switch to a rules-based system similar to the one currently in use by AdBlock Plus. However, Chrome imposes a limit of 30,000 rules which will likely makes things difficult for developers trying to switch to a rules-based approach.
Advertising is Google's main revenue stream and by allowing ad blockers to continue to operate unchecked, the company was cutting off a significant portion of its own revenue. Enterprise users will be able to continue blocking ads because they pay for the company's services unlike most of its users.
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