back to article Hands off Brock! EFF pleads with Google not to kill its Privacy Badger with its Manifest destiny

In an effort to discourage Google from breaking or hobbling content blocking and privacy Chrome Extensions, the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Wednesday presented the Chocolate Factory with a modest wish list [PDF] to guide the company's ongoing API revision. The aptly named Bennett Cyphers, staff technologist for …

  1. notamole

    Is Manifest v3 a change to Chrome or Chromium? The press has a tendency to equate the two, so everywhere I look just says Chrome.

    1. Sven Coenye


      From the article:

      "We’ve listed a set of changes to the proposal that we believe are necessary to keep Privacy Badger functioning as it does now and to allow us to implement planned changes in the near future," they wrote in their letter to Google's Chromium team.

      There's really no other way for this to work. Implementing an intrusive public facing change like that in Chrome only would essentially create 2 separate browsers. And even if it was for Chrome only, that probably covers 99% of all installations. That doesn't leave a lot of incentive for developers to continue supporting Chromium.

  2. Duncan Macdonald

    What a surprise

    The worlds largest ad flinger trying to stop ad blockers from working.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a surprise

      That is not what is happening here at all. The APIs that's are currently being used by adblocker and privacy extensions are leak all your data. Google is tightening up on this.

      It's ironic that EFF seem to want Google to keep this privacy leak, as it makes their life easier to create a privacy extension. Hipocrites....

      1. Ben Tasker

        Re: What a surprise

        So instead, Google are proposing we all be at risk, all the time (and conveniently maintain their revenue stream).

        Malicious extensions do pose a risk. But it's likely a much, much smaller cross section of users who are likely to install those than those who encounter ads and/or trackers - which is basically everyone.

        It's also not a leak they're addressing. Extensions with permission to use that API can quite rightly access the data. The API is not leaking that data to extensions without the requisite permissions, nor to sites. The concern is that malicious extensions may use this permission to gather data. What will be a leak is if they get rid of this API and we can no longer effectively block ads and trackers

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: What a surprise

        Sorry? What? If I install an adblocker, what data is leaked?

        As far as I can work out, it's none whatsoever. If it is not none whatsoever, and certainty less than running tens of third party ad scripts when the page loads.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: What a surprise

      I would say that assuming they want to STOP privacy plugins is probably incorrect.

      I think it's one of several scenarious:

      a) Google does NOT understand why anybody might want to protect privacy online, so they haven't got a clue that when they change an API at the whim of the developers, it might break privacy-related plugins

      b) The API is Google's, they can do what they want, to hell with everyone else, we're Google

      c) One hand not knowing what the other is doing [more or less], hyperfocused development efforts, API change and crap rolls downhill, no clue as to how it affects anyone else, just do it

      d) all of the above

      1. cream wobbly

        Re: What a surprise

        I tend to think, since the story is being covered from the aggrieved party's perspective, there's another angle to this. Google doesn't want to tell them how to do their job, because they should know better.

        "There is no practical way to build a blocking extension in the activeTab model; the burden on users to grant consent for each and every site they visit would be far too great, and all but the most privacy-conscious users would uninstall the extensions."

        I was finding that half the sites I was visiting were broken by PrivacyBadger, and yes I reported a good few. Also, being financial institution sites, none of them carried external ads. So actually, I would far rather have the extension request consent on each site.

        Meanwhile, due to the high number of breakages in the existing model, this privacy-conscious user has uninstalled the extension.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and, it appears to me, the timing is such that this is taking place now that Microsoft is moving to this as their browser engine. Now, you've got to ask yourself, do I feel lucky? ...Oh, I mean would either Microsoft or Google see any advantage to them in diminishing a user's privacy. Definitely, they would not! ;)

  4. red floyd

    "and all but the most privacy-conscious users would uninstall the extensions"

    Gee, do you think that maybe that's what the world's largest ad-monger wants?

    1. Colin Ritman

      Re: "and all but the most privacy-conscious users would uninstall the extensions"

      No it's not, they are removing the APIs that allow extensions to grab all your site information, which is a privacy risk. EFF are hipocrites to the highest degree, they should be welcoming this, but they are complaining that it makes their life harder.

      1. Duncan Macdonald

        Re: "and all but the most privacy-conscious users would uninstall the extensions"

        So instead of being at risk if you install a dodgy extension - you would with the new crippled API be at risk the whole time as crap code on advertisers will be executed instead of being blocked.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "and all but the most privacy-conscious users would uninstall the extensions"

          As blockers will still exist after this API change. People are clearly cretins that aren't understanding the details.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: "and all but the most privacy-conscious users would uninstall the extensions"

      Google's astroturfers seem to be active! No arguments given as to why the change is better, just bluster and ad hominems...

  5. cd

    If this isn't implemented in the OSS version, could EFF simply offer their own browser?

    We went through a phase where there weren't blockers, then the various plugins came along, now they are blocking those from working which is their right as owners of the code... so what's the next phase look like? Will it be like radar detector detectors and laser jammers for cars?

    Or could someone make something that obviates the current escalation?

  6. earl grey

    it's just like scripts

    i turn the off or on as i need and if it's too much trouble...i simply get rid of that site. nobody is worth that much trouble.

  7. ThatOne Silver badge

    Isn't it a little pathetic

    EFF asking (one of) the biggest privacy thieves in the world to pretty pretty please not break their privacy add-on?

    I mean, I could write something on my door along the lines of "Dear burglars, please make sure the tools you have brought to open my door are not up to the task", but what are my chances this would work?

  8. jonathan keith

    Mach 1 Badger

    Is that a vapour cone behind that badger badger badger?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mach 1 Badger

      It's just a fat badger. Probably had too many cookies for lunch.

  9. DanceMan

    The Pale Moon option

    Yet another reason I'm happy using Pale Moon in both Windows and Linux. It's not perfect though because one of the extensions I use has disappeared. I still have it only by copying over my profile. This is due to Pale Moon only being compatible with extensions made for up to about FF 24. The change in code base now in effect with FF has led to some devs abandoning their earlier extensions.

    1. Duncan Macdonald

      Re: The Pale Moon option

      Consider Waterfox as an alternative to Pale Moon.

      1. Not That Andrew

        Re: The Pale Moon option

        Is Waterfox still as tardy as it used to be with security updates? I recall when it was supposed to be following mainline FF closely it sometimes took up to 2 months to update, even for major security issues. Which is why I decided against it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Pale Moon option

      Unfortunately, the Pale Moon developers themselves have demonstrated they are complete ar$esholes.

      For example, when one of the OpenBSD developers was initially working to get Pale Moon running on OpenBSD, instead of helping they pulled this crap:

      Pale Moon Official Branding Violation

      Needless to say, a lot of people have seen that and decided Pale Moon isn't a project to help.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    We get what we deserve

    After two days, there are less than 20 comments on this article. Some are constructive and some are frankly "AI over anon": Anon accounts spouting more shite than normal in response to key words.

    If you mess with my (priv) brock, then you mess with me as well. I'll just drop that, here ... ...

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: We get what we deserve

      Perhaps some of that is down to many of us taking the long Easter weekend?!?

  11. SNAFUology

    Block much more

    It's nice to have EFF creating these programs but I found Privacy Badger oriented toward keeping too many people happy and did not give me the block I need. i also wanted some advert blocking and don't see the value in having multiple applications when a one good one can do the same task.

    NOTE: adverts using text and a small image from the same server as the webpage I am viewing is fine and rarely do blockers or privacy apps block these. just keep them small and clean.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Block much more

      Looks like you should be using Pi-Hole, I do and I like and recommend it.

  12. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    I hope things like this encourage more people to ditch Chrome and move to a version of firefox... But sadly 90% of the people I know are oblivious to the risks to their privacy.. or more worrying... Wilfully ignorant and unwilling to accept the facts when informed of them.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Angry Badger?



  14. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Hacking the real problem

    This is one of many problems tracing back to JavaScript having awful concurrency support. Fixing that would be a huge benefit, even if it's new coding syntax and only plugins are early adaptors.

  15. jelabarre59

    Uninstall what though

    ...the burden on users to grant consent for each and every site they visit would be far too great, and all but the most privacy-conscious users would uninstall the extensions.

    More likely I would be uninstalling Google Chrome. Far happier with Waterfox and Firefox (and Microsoft were *STUPID* for not siding with the Mozilla Project, but we are already aware of Microsoft's glaring stupidity).

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