Dec 10, 2021
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Google Nukes Ad-Blockers—Manifest V3 is Coming

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Home » Security Boulevard (Original) » News » Google Nukes Ad-Blockers—Manifest V3 is Coming
Makers of ad-blocker and anti-tracking browser extensions are spitting blood. Google is planning to change everything, removing features in the Chrome browser APIs that these extensions rely on.
Google is doing it in the name of security, privacy and performance. But extension writers—including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)—smell a rat. After all, Google makes most of its money by tracking people and advertising to them. It might not be so motivated to help out Chrome extensions that lose it money.
Google calls it Manifest V3. EFF calls it a “conflict of interest.” In today’s SB Blogwatch, we call it deeply suspicious.
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Freddie vs. Mariah.
What’s the craic? Daly Barnett reports—“Chrome Users Beware: Manifest V3 is Deceitful and Threatening”:
Paternalistic and downright creepy
Google Chrome’s soon-to-be definitive basket of changes to the world of web browser extensions, has been framed by its authors as “a step in the direction of privacy, security, and performance.” But we think these changes are a raw deal for users. [It] is another example of the inherent conflict of interest that comes from Google controlling both the dominant web browser and one of the largest internet advertising networks.

Manifest V3, or Mv3 for short, is outright harmful to privacy efforts. It will restrict the capabilities of web extensions … like some privacy-protective tracker blockers, [which] will have greatly reduced capabilities. … It’s also doubtful Mv3 will do much for security.

[It] may seem in the weeds, but the broader implications should matter to all internet citizens: it’s another step towards Google defining how we get to live online. … These new limitations are paternalistic and downright creepy.

Gosh, Google. Ghostery Geschäftsführeren Jean Paul Schmetz and Heinz Spengler are not at all happy:
Google … has almost uncontrollable power
Manifest V3 is a detrimental step back for internet privacy. … Nothing Manifest V3 introduces in its current state, can help protect privacy. Extension developers and users should act firmly against it.

With … Manifest V3, Google dramatically limits capabilities of browser extensions. It removes access to powerful APIs that allowed us to provide innovation in privacy protection. … Intended or not, Manifest V3 takes choice away from users, exposing them to new threats. Manifest V3 is ultimately user hostile.

The argument that privacy can be further improved by removing blocking webRequest is questionable. … It is a fallacy that removing blocking webRequest will solve the underlying problem. … There is no silver bullet.

Manifest V3 … looks good on paper, but the reality is quite different. … Google as the owner of a dominant web browser has almost uncontrollable power to shape the web platform.

And Andrey Meshkov has some news—but “it’s not good news”:
Go and block some ads
Chrome devs decided to solve the security problem by stripping extensions of access rights to web requests and, therefore, of many useful capabilities. Nearly all browser extensions as you know them today will be affected in some way.

In aticipation of Manifest V3 we’re already working on a prototype for the new ad blocker extension, and let me tell you — it’s hard. … Will it become worse? Almost undeniably.

Our bet is that Firefox will keep extensions made with Manifest V2 in their store, for a while at least. … Meanwhile, our advice is to go and block some ads — you never know when you’ll get deprived of this opportunity.

Wait. Pause. Surely this will improve security, no? No, jokes jacquesm:
To force feed you more ads
Just like AMP was to make the web faster … what Google says vs. what’s going on aren’t necessarily the same thing. They have a long history of selling us the ‘for your convenience’ line, while removing functionality that people depended on but that ultimately hurt Google’s business interests … to force feed you more ads.

They have long outlived their credit in the bank of the benefit of the doubt.

tl;dr? bill_mcgonigle is succinct:
Google is an ad company dealing a blow to adblockers and lying that they have no choice.

Threat or opportunity? u/UnderwhelmingPossum is inspired:
Protecting their users from Google
You know who could deliver a huge “**** you very much” … to Google right now? Microsoft.

They are currently in hot water for being morons and trying to push an already good browser onto users by force. Google has just given them ammo to push back.

When Scroogle browser is a malicious agent working on behalf of surveillance economy robber barons, having your OS force you to use a certified browser becomes a feature. They can straight faced stand in front of a judge and claim they are protecting their users from Google.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think dessant sounds disappointed:
Ridiculous reason
It’s disappointing [but] this has been Google’s tactic in the past decade: Feign innocence and initiate technical discussions, then move goalposts and start over until their opponents are exhausted.

It took them months to find a ridiculous reason for no longer allowing proper control over requests in Chrome. And they kept jumping between performance, privacy and security, as researchers refuted all their technical arguments one by one.

Sounds like there’s little to be gained for extension writers. Here’s an unsympathetic AmiMoJo:
Users want control
Little gain to you perhaps, but good for your users. Manifest V3 brings Android style permissions, which can be denied by the user. I’m sure your extensions are all benevolent, but you can appreciate that users want control.

ELI5: Why should we care? u/MetricVeil is as mad as hell—and they’re not going to take it any more:
Shop monster
The internet is now a landscape for corporations to exploit. … When you go out shopping … you would be appalled if, on entering a store, an assistant came up to you, asked for your name and address, what you wanted to buy, where you had just been and where you were going after … and then proceeded to stick a label on you with those details.

By the end of your shopping trip you would look like some hairy, post-it-note covered, shop monster.

Meanwhile, it’s all moot to 93 Escort Wagon:
On the other hand, no one who actually cares about their privacy is using Chrome anyway.

All I want is to stop me now
Previously in And Finally
You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE. 30.
Image sauce: Gerd Altmann (via Pixabay)
Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.
richi has 308 posts and counting.See all posts by richi

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