Google Chrome update that may limit the operation of ad blockers

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Google Chrome update that may limit the operation of ad blockers

The Google Chrome team has been working on the transition to the new Manifest V3 extension format for the past few years. It probably faced more backlash and longer delays than expected. This is because the team is introducing restrictions on filtering rules in the new format, which will affect many extensions, especially ad blockers. This is why the deployment was suspended in December 2022, and now, a year later, the team is ready to resume the transition process.

The Manifest V3 extension format first appeared on the stable channel of Chrome in 2021, but it did not replace Manifest V2. The team offered support for both formats, which is now set to change next year. David Lee, Google’s product manager, announced on his blog that the transition to Manifest V3 will resume now.

The team will begin to disable Manifest V2-based extensions in all previous stable versions of Chrome starting in June 2024. This applies to Dev, Canary, and Beta channels, and we will be working on Chrome 127 at this time. In addition to the automatic shutdown, it will also prevent users from installing these extensions from the Chrome Web Store. Likewise, extensions that are labeled Featured in the store will lose that label.

As for users of stable channels, the changes will take effect slowly and somewhat later. Google expects at least a month of time to observe and stabilize the changes in the pre-stable channel before expanding the rollout to the stable Chrome channel. This means that users of stable Chrome will see these changes as early as July 2024.

The Manifest V3 extension format has a number of changes, but there is one particular change that will limit the capabilities of extensions, especially ad blockers. Google has added a limit to the number of filtering rules an extension can offer. Initially, it limited the number of filtering rules to a measly 5,000, but after a negative reaction, it increased it to 30,000. For comparison, the Manifest V2 format has no restrictions on filtering rules.

Google explains the addition of such restrictions by the fact that Chrome needs to be more economical in resource consumption. The company also adds that this will also protect users’ privacy from extension developers. It is not hard to guess that users and ad blocker developers are mostly unhappy with these upcoming changes. Many users have even expressed their opinion about switching to another browser.

However, Google has found an ally in Andrey Meshkov, CTO of AdGuard, who said, “With Manifest V3, we’re seeing a huge effort from the browser development teams (Chrome in particular, but also other browsers) to work on a unified platform, and I see them listening to the feedback from extension developers.” He added: “Ad blockers like us will be able to continue to meet the challenges and improve.”

Chrome isn’t the only place where Google is working to limit ad blockers. It has also started blocking ad blockers on YouTube. Recently, the company also confirmed slower video playback for viewers using ad blockers.

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