Google’s Plan to Break Your Ad Blocker

As a result of the end-of-life date for Manifest V2, Google has announced that Chrome browser extensions written under the obsolete Manifest V2 specification will stop working in January 2023. Add-ons such as ad blockers will be disabled inadvertently as a consequence of this change.

“Years in the making, Manifest V3 is more secure, performant, and privacy-preserving than its predecessor. It is an evolution of the extension platform that takes into consideration both the changing web landscape and the future of browser extensions,” wrote David Li, product manager for Chrome extensions.

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The Chrome Web Store will no longer accept new Manifest V2 extensions beginning on January 17, 2022, and existing ones will be disabled by January 2023.

Was your interest in me merely a cover for something more sinister?

Manifest V3 is a significant change in the extensions platform, according to Google, and it offers extensions that enhanced security, privacy, and performance. However, Manifest V3 depreciated certain functions of the WebRequestAPI that ad-blocking add-ons like uBlock Origin and Ghostery rely on to operate correctly. Google stated in an annual report submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a few years ago that ad-block technology has the ability to significantly hurt search engine earnings.

The introduction of Manifest V3, which allows ads to be shown through ad-blockers, hasn’t gone over well with critics. However, despite this, the ad giant claims that its mission with Manifest V3 is not to prevent ad blockers; rather, it will help developers create better ones.

“In fact, this change is meant to give developers a way to create safer and more performant ad blockers,” wrote Simeon Vincent, developer advocate for Chrome Extensions.

Despite these findings, not everyone is pleased.

“Our criticism still stands. The reasons they have stated publicly [for this transition] don’t fully make sense,” Alexei Miagkov, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).