back to article Firefox to adopt Chrome's new approach to extensions – sans the part that threatens ad blockers

Firefox maker Mozilla on Thursday said it plans to mostly adopt Manifest v3, a controversial revision of the Chrome browser extension framework that Google undertook to address the glaring security problems in the browser. Mozilla, which relies on Google for the majority of its royalty revenue, found much that's worthwhile in …

  1. HildyJ Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Promises, promises

    "Features promised to appease disgruntled developers, like a way to use declarativeNetRequest to implement rules to block or redirect network requests based on response headers – helpful for blocking content or trackers – await the resolution of bugs."

    So they know Manifest3 is buggy. And purely by coincidence the bugs benefit Google and its advertisers. But that's okay because they promise to fix them eventually.

    Why am I not feeling warm and fuzzy about this.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Promises, promises

      > Why am I not feeling warm and fuzzy about this.

      Aren't you? A pity, it means that there is no point of offering you to buy that nice bridge smack in the middle of New York...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UNclear

    Google thinks it is the UN of the web. Lots of other people think so too. But, wildly opposite viewpoints of what the UN exemplifies, yes?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: UNclear

      The W3C is the UN of the web. Google thinks it's El Presidente for life.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: UNclear

        They day Google replaced the WWW with a proprietary binary protocol (spdy) was the day Google should have been broken up.

        1. O RLY

          Re: UNclear

          And then they made things worse with the abomination that is AMP.

  3. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    "does not yet meet the needs of extension developers"

    I am more concerned about the needs of extension users. Yes, I am that selfish.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: "does not yet meet the needs of extension developers"

      I take my hat off to you T.F.M.Reader. However, given that Mozilla [...] relies on Google for the majority of its royalty revenue there's not much hope for any attention being given to users' interests any more.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: "does not yet meet the needs of extension developers"

        Indeed. on top of their natural propensity to try to render Firefox as awkward and limited as possible, they also have to listen to the wishes of the guy who pays the bills...

        It's clear Firefox shouldn't cast a shadow over its benefactor's offer. Not to mention allowing people to evade tracking and ads is a slap in the face of sugar daddy Google.

        A pity, I have been using Firefox since the demise of Netscape, and have recommended it to all my friends and family.

      2. stiine Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: "does not yet meet the needs of extension developers"

        That, and their brain-dead developers. They all live and work in little silos and when they decide to change something (that they don't use), they won't worry if it breaks.

  4. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

    Second Class Citizens

    Interesting is Google's attitude with respect to enterprise users, they continue to get blocking, and personal use, they get restricted blocking, at best. Okay Google, frag off.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Why do Mozilla need to implement manifest v3 at all? Its not like its a W3C standard, so why don't Mozilla carry on with the way extensions work currently in Firefox than try and follow what Google is doing again?

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      > Why do Mozilla need to implement manifest v3 at all?

      Well, they do have to listen to the guy who pays the bills. But also, in their ongoing struggle to remove useful functionality, Manifest v.3 becomes an obvious choice: After all, one of the main advantages of Firefox are the Add-ons allowing to evade ads and tracking, so it's obvious they have to go ASAP.

      1. Mark #255
        Mushroom

        Did you actually read the bit of the article that explained that Mozilla would be keeping the blocking webRequest API, so that uBlock Origin etc. can keep on blocking ads/trackers?

        1. Dave559 Silver badge

          the blocking webRequest API

          I'd like to believe that Mozilla are doing the right thing, but the use of "until" here does worry me somewhat:

          "We will support blocking webRequest until there’s a better solution which covers all use cases we consider important"

          I can just visualise how, in a year's time, there might be yet another announcement, where they say they're very sorry, but it's just too hard to keep supporting the webRequest API, and they no longer consider extensions which require it to be important to them (not the first time Mozilla has stuffed extension developers, and the whole extension ecosystem still hasn't really properly recovered from that time)…? :-(

          Among the extension developers whose views and concerns I'd like to hear, I'd be very interested to know what Giorgio "NoScript" Maone thinks about this.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          > Did you actually read the bit of the article that explained that Mozilla would be keeping the blocking webRequest API

          Yes, I did, but I didn't actually believe it. The very point of Manifest v3 is to make those things impossible, so adopting it, and at the same time claiming to not changing anything strikes me as contradictory, or, worse, as political: In the first time there won't be any major changes, but then suddenly, "following general demand", they will restrict ad blocking to what doesn't affect Google's bottom line.

    2. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Why at all?

      "Why do Mozilla need to implement manifest v3 at all?"

      They don't, I think the idea here is most of the rest of the stuff in manifest v3 is legitimately useful to protect against malicious extensions (while not impacting legitimate ones), while the part regarding webrequests cripples ad blocking without a suitable replacement.

    3. Dinanziame Silver badge

      The previous solution has security issues. Well, at least, that's the excuse Google is using to foist the new thing on their users, and even those who complain about the new thing are not saying anything to the contrary.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    supportive commentary from Adblock Plus maker Eyeo

    Yeah, you might want to disregard anything Eyeo says on the subject.

    Not only do the let "authorized" ads through their so-called adblocker they also sell API keys that allow criminals to bypass the adblocker to serve up malware:

    "...a header called “X-Adblock-Key.” This header includes an API key that allows daily ads to bypass one of the most popular ad blockers, Talos discovered."

    https://threatpost.com/malvertising-ad-blockers-mac-malware/146861/

    Do yourself a favor and use a quality open-source adblocker such as:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/ublock-origin/

    1. martyn.hare
      Alert

      Adblock Plus is open source

      Adblock Plus is GPLv3 licenced. Acceptable ads are optional.

      If there’s a backdoor, surely you should be able to point to it from within the code?

  7. FuzzyTheBear
    Mushroom

    Forking Firefox ?

    If Firefox bends down in front of Google maybe it's time for a Firefox fork and let go of them. Users and what they want is what's priority, not what some advertisers want to sell.

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: Forking Firefox ?

      Easier said than done, however. There is a lot of development work and knowledge required to build a browser, and while there are a couple of well-known Firefox forks, I get the impression that even they are starting to struggle somewhat as the Matrix is continually reconfigured around them, and that they only have a limited number of developers to start with, sadly.

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Forking Firefox ?

      If we do go down the Fireforks route then essentially Google wins.

      At the moment, despite their reliance on Google cash (which comes for making Google the default search engine in Firefox), Firefox is pretty much the only independent browser. The other options are from major companies (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari) or use the Chromium engine and so are very similar to both Chrome and Edge. The next options are probably Opera and Brave, both also Chromium based. Firefox, for all its flaws, is a trusted name and a genuine alternative to the others, which would be lost with a fork.

    3. DanceMan
      Unhappy

      Re: Forking Firefox ?

      I've been using a fork, Pale Moon, but recent changes in its code have eliminated most of my key extensions, which were already limited to ones developed up to about FF24. I've been looking at Vivaldi as a replacement (well aware it's based on Chromium code.)

  8. Bela Lubkin

    why go along with Google?

    It's a matter of self defense.

    Since manifest v3 has a lot of API changes, extension developers who port to it will be under pressure to drop v2 support. New extensions developed after v3 is widespread and fully operational will of course target the gigantic Chrome market, ignoring or only addressing as a lagging afterthought the relatively tiny v2 market.

    Browsers which do not support v3 will be left behind in a shrinking pool of sad remnant extensions. Look at the state of extensions for Firefox forks which haven't picked up WebExtensions (manifest v2) support.

    None of this would apply if it were truly just a different manifest format; if a single extension could easily be packaged in either 'v2' or 'v3' format with a few simple build procedure changes. The name is misleading.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why go along with Google?

      Googles monopoly allows them to dictate the web "standards". Even more so than MS circa IE6.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The internet is Google's walled garden

    One that every browser is increasingly being forced to accomodate, perhaps the only solution is to block all sites that insist upon advertising and invasion of privacy.

    W3C should be working upon their own standards to limit Google's absolute control but have seemed very quiet about google removing them from control.

    Perhaps a reassessment of who the internet is supposed to benefit is in order.

    Originally the network that became the internet was designed to allow scientists from different specialities to communication and hence bring different eyes to bare on problems.

    Now the internet is just a way of profitting off the good faith and general ignorance of the punters who still havent got a clue.

    Where before the internet promoted advances in technology now the trend has reversed with 1970's style timeshare systems rebranded as the cloud promoted as something new, all so the user's data and ID could be pillaged and profiled in the most efficent way. Where once everyone on the web was anonymous now the reverse is true and media keeps pushing the idea that this in someway for our benefit, ha

    Governments insisting that the services their tax payers fund can only be accessed via the internet means that any privacy protections that once held for communications between those that pay the bills and those that control the law have been neatly sidestepped so what was once considered personal is now public to anyone willing to pay for access and without any chances of punishment for the abuse of trust.

    Seriously you need to ask yourself is the cost of using the internet for those things remaining of value to you significant compared with what you loose in using the web.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: The internet is Google's walled garden

      > Perhaps a reassessment of who the internet is supposed to benefit is in order.

      On one side, a handful of bearded idealists, on the other side thousands of businesses with lots of money, able to buy lots of influence. Gong!

      Besides, who will asses that? Most likely the very people investing in "monetizing" the internet, and you can be sure they won't rule against their own interests. Even the governments who, while easily corruptible, have the power to oppose the corporate world, have a vested interest in controlling what their herd of unruly citizens say and hear.

      No, it won't happen, and if it does, it will rule that money rules the world. Which we already kind of know, don't we.

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