back to article As Google sets burial date for legacy Chrome Extensions, fears for ad-blockers grow

Google this month said Chrome browser extensions written under its Manifest V2 specification will stop working in January 2023. Thereafter, only Manifest V3 extensions will be supported in Chrome, a change that critics fear will hobble the add-ons and make them little more than toys. "Years in the making, Manifest V3 is more …

  1. heyrick Silver badge

    Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

    Title says it all, but really it shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody that a global ad flinger revises their browser in such a way that it will no longer be able to offer the same degree of privacy and content blocking that users deserve, as said privacy and blocking invariably blocks the crap that they get paid to fling.

    What's sad is how many others are going along with this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

      Various extension developers have said this is going to be a problem.

      Now the consumers of extensions need to say what red lines they're looking at.

      For me, breaking NoScript or AdblockPlus means I close Chrome till they work again. And switch to whatever browser those continue to work in.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

        In my case it means I won't switch to Chrome.

        The browser market has swung one way and another ever since the web was invented. There's no reason why that won't continue.

      2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

        That'll largely be Firefox, then. I use it for these reasons, but I do wish they'd keep up speed-wise. However, it'd have to be almost unusable before I considered switching to Chrome.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

          I'm in the process of switching from Firefox to Chrome/Chromium, since the new version of Firefox they introduced in the summer broke all sorts of things for me. It can't display statements from my bank or payslips from work, for example, and it crashes on me at least once a day.

          And who thought it would be a good idea to have a browser update itself in the background and then insist on a restart (actually a shutdown as you have to restart it yourself) with no opportunity to save work in open tabs?

          Firefox was great when they cut memory usage and fixed the leaks about five (?) years ago, but it's a trainwreck now.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

            > have a browser update itself in the background

            Nobody prevents you from setting it to "Check for updates but let me choose to install them". You know, in the "Settings" menu...

            1. James Hughes 1

              Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

              Nobody prevented Firefox from making that the default, but they didn't....

              1. ThatOne Silver badge

                Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

                I have a lot to complain about Firefox choices myself, but why they chose this default is so easy to explain I wonder why I'm having to.

                Computer-illiterate people never look into Settings (even if they know such a feature exists). For their own security, updates need to be as automatic as possible, constantly asking would only result in constant uninformed refusals ("WTF, leave me alone already!"). No, this is not an assumption, this is an observation.

                Computer literate people on the other hand, the ones needing/wanting more control, have usually heard about those legendary "Settings" menus, and will thus stumble upon the possibility to remove the training wheels. It's there, for them.

                (Didn't downvote you though.)

          2. Pirate Dave Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

            "since the new version of Firefox they introduced in the summer broke all sorts of things for me."

            I've noticed similar in Pale Moon. Sites and pages that were working fine in the spring suddenly started crapping-out around mid-summer. I get lots of blank white pages now, and have to resort to Chrome to get some things done. Bleh. Too bad the Web lost its original promise of universality. I guess precise pixel placement trumps all else. Fucking marketing departments...

            1. ScissorHands
              Flame

              Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

              So said the users of the original Opera and even of Edge. All you lot had to say then was "not my problem". Now it is your problem as well.

      3. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

        "what red lines they're looking at"

        Three simple things.

        1, block all content that isn't approved (scripts, images over a certain size, pop-ups)

        2, auto-delete all unapproved cookies after 120 seconds

        3, completely block all requests to domains known to serve up nothing worthwhile (doubleclick, facebook, fbcdn...).

        You wouldn't let a complete stranger into your home, to insert a USB key into your computer, to run the software of their choosing on your machine. So why the hell does everybody seem to think it's okay to do this "in a browser". If the script offers me benefit, then it (and it alone) can run. Otherwise, GTFO.

      4. P. Lee
        Big Brother

        Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

        I like Firefox's persistent cookie container idea - I suspect its more workable than Brave's more aggressive stance, but Brave is my daily driver. I'm always appalled at the internet when I see it in chrome.

        I think Google may have miscalculated here. They will make themselves a stink in the nostrils of all techies. I wouldn't be surprised if corporate desktops switch to Edge and (Firefox or Brave). If techies can't make Chrome palatable for themselves, they are going to be constantly telling people, "I don't use Chrome". Techies may not hold budgets, but they do have influence.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

          "They will make themselves a stink in the nostrils of all techies."

          Google? The same Google that forced all of us to implement https on our sites whether they needed it or not? The same Google that jerks around security standards because it suits their interests? The same Google that's threatening to turn on 2FA for crap like YouTube just because they can? Nah, the techies love dealing with that shit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

      There is no magic bullet for privacy. It takes work.

      I swapped my daily driver browser to Brave in March then set up a Pi-hole server on a RaspPi for my home network. Very few ads are seen any more and there isn't a single extension involved. If a web site insists I turn off my ad blocker to see their content, I don't go back there again. There's always other options.

      When asked to provide an email by web sites I give them my spam account. I log into it, get the info I need, then log off. They can send as much crap as they like to that account and my real InBox is tiny as a result. Once a month, I review the spam list then delete the dross. I use fake names, gender, dates of birth and false identifying info online (unless it is an official government website, of course.)

      I also use browser isolation (Gmail in Chrome only), DNS is 9.9.9.9 and my search engine is Duck Duck Go. Every tab is incognito. When I reboot, everything is cleared. I use multiple VM's, renaming them and generating new MAC addresses weekly. Windows telemetry only works if you actually use Windows.

      They can monetize my data, but anything linked to me online today is pure garbage.

      1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Re: Toy extensions won't mess with their revenue stream.

        If a web site insists I turn off my ad blocker to see their content, I don't go back there again. There's always other options.

        Bob on! A big place t'Internet.

  2. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

    If Your Business Depends on a Single Platform

    You don't have a business.

    The fact that Chrome is pretty much it for browsers (I use Firefox, and have written an extension for same) means that if you are writing extensions for it, and it is your livelihood, you are going to get screwed, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life. (I don't code for a living, as my coding is ugly enough to give Tardigraves cancer)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If Your Business Depends on a Single Platform

      Isn't that the life the Windows devs have been living for the past 20+ years? Constantly wondering if the Next Great Windows is going to break their program in new and creative ways...

      1. ScissorHands
        Trollface

        Re: If Your Business Depends on a Single Platform

        Linux devs don't have to wonder; unless they keep up to date with the dependencies, their programs break with the next version of each distro. There was a time where you couldn't compile Samba from source on RHEL7 because of a missing library that had been marked as "deprecated" and "WONTFIX" by Red Hat. Samba!

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Chrome is not a browser

    People need to understand that web browsing is just an addon to the Google Apps interface.

    You should probably only use Chrome for Gmail, Docs, Drive and other Google services and that's it.

    They bank on users being lazy and staying within their app viewer to browse internet.

  4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Manifest V3 is not to kill ad blockers

    V3 cripples it enough that people have already given up hope when V3.1 kills it.

    Google has been plotting the same demise for many Android features that threaten advertising, spying, and cloud revenue. Android 11 is a dumpster fire and Android 12 is shaping up to be so bad that I wouldn't use it at all.

  5. msobkow Silver badge

    Did anyone ever really expect a company that makes its money through advertising to continue to allow blocking of that very revolting "product" by the consumer?

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      I thought we were the "product"? Or at least our eyeballs and clicky-fingers.

  6. VicMortimer

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2021/08/28/stop-using-google-chrome-on-windows-10-android-and-apple-iphones-ipads-and-macs/

  7. RLWatkins

    I don't have an ad-blocker....

    ... but rather a HOSTS file which routes hundreds of ad servers to 0.0.0.0.

    Works great. About to translate the thing to use on Linux and Android. I have to wonder how much of the OS that's going to kill, but I do have a couple of sacrificial devices to try it out on.

    Happy days.

    Oh, and by the way, Hell is full and ad executives are walking the earth.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

      Some ad servers use an enormous number of random domain names. It works better to regex match their URL path or their document path, and only a plug-in can do that.

      1. Pete Smith 2

        Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

        Or use pi-hole (or equivalent). There's even instructions out there to run pihole in Docker.

        1. JohnSheeran

          Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

          I'm not sure why you got the downvote but I support this idea. I'm honestly surprised that someone hasn't done the Ubiquiti Cloud Key idea with such a thing already TBH.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

            It took some finagling on my setup, but my ubiquiti stack has a Pi-hole next to it, and I have a secondary Pi-hole sitting on elsewhere on the network in case the first one dies (again.)

            I'm honestly more surprised that Ubiquiti doesn't offer it as an option in the cloud key.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

            'm not sure why you got the downvote

            Brexit. :-)

            [Only kidding...]

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

            I didn't downvote, but as soon as there's an article about ads, you get a million replies along the lines of "what are ads? I use an ad blocker". Ha ha most droll.

            Telling people you use an ad-blocker, or a pi-hole is not advice on a tech site like this, it's a misguided form of gloating.

            What next? On an article about keyboards, posts from people saying they can type with more than 2 fingers?

            An artcile on password security, posts from people saying they never give their paswords to random emails, and that they always use passwords at least 3 characters long?

      2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

        I use NextDNS (through DNS-over-TLS) via my router as a backstop for blocking and redirect all traffic on port 53. It's quite good. I also have additional blocking on the router itself via adblock on OpenWRT, and only a third of DNS queries actually get through to NextDNS in the first place, meaning that I manage to stay on their free (300,000 queries a month) tier. (#notsponsored) Of course, I also use uBlock0, DDG Privacy Essentials, Privacy Badger, NoScript, ClearURLs, and Decentraleyes, but then maybe I'm paranoid.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

          Hubert Cumberdale,

          "... but then maybe I'm paranoid"

          No ... you are not !!!

          You qualify as 'Reasonably Cautious' ... in the wild wild west known as the 'Interwebs' :) :)

          Keep up the good work !!!

          P.S.

          As well as all the 'usual' browser addons as you have mentioned, I run unbound to have my own 'controlled' DNS server and multiple separate versions of Diversion / Skynet running on ASUS routers. I also block whole country-level IP-ranges from countries I will not ever access. i.e. China, Iran etc etc

          For more information on Diversion / Skynet etc on ASUS Routers running asuswrt-merlin.

          [Shameless Plug for 'Excellent' firmware/scripts etc I use .... none my own work :) !!!]

          (See https://www.snbforums.com/forums/asuswrt-merlin-addons.60/ )

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't have an ad-blocker....

      Just wait until the ads themselves can perform name resolution via https...

  8. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Stop

    Upgrade...

    ... to Firefox. With Duck Duck Go as your default search engine. The end.

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: Upgrade...

      Not quite the end... see my list of extensions to install above.

      1. pavel.petrman

        Re: Upgrade...

        I'd add uMatrix to your list. Though it's workable only for people who understand the inner workings of 'Web pages and apps (and thou it can seriously annoy a layman, it at least show huw much crap is being loaded with every commercial webpage).

    2. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: Upgrade...

      Duckduckgo is possibly the crappiest search engine I have ever used. Especially its regional search - basically it doesn’t work.

      I like the idea of it but its results are just shite. It makes Google search look almost adequate.

    3. Ne body

      Re: Upgrade...

      to SeaMonkey (what was Netscape Communicator) with uBlock Origin and friends. Some paywalled sites even let it in for free presumably because they don't test for it :)

  9. Alpine_Hermit

    Shocker! Advertising Giant Builds Browser And Kills Ability To Block Ads!

    Is anyone not surprised at the deeds of “Do no evil” ?!

  10. ZeroPete

    Confused..

    Even if they ever did, is there anyone that even remotely believes that Google has good intentions when they change things ? Google is a money making machine. All they care about is lining their pockets. They do not care about privacy, safety, health or anything else if it doesn't generate more income. And as they own the space they can pretty much do whatever they like. They own the users. There are no meaningful alternatives to Google left.

    And there's nothing the EFF or anybody else can do about it.

    1. pavel.petrman

      Re: Confused..

      There is a tiny silver linig to all this - Google folks seem to have learnt from their Rockefellers to keep token competition alive (indeed Firefox gets its development money from preinstalled prefered search engine) so as to be able to defend against accusations of monopolistic practice. They have a real business need to keep alternatives alive and the three second's worth of revenue lost on this front doesn't seem to hurt them all that much.

  11. MJI Silver badge

    Firefox

    I cannot abide ad filled sites, don't mind banners on forums, but pop ups and animated are why adblockers were invented

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      Wireshark and /etc/hosts

      Not to mention they import a lot of malware via pop-up storms.

      Sometimes you have to resort to cutting them off with the hosts file, I have a few entries that adblockplus can't stop.

  12. iced.lemonade

    the price of self

    i wish someone make a browser like firefox, without google influence, for a subscription - say, $5 a month - just like anyone using vpn, instead of tracking me to the end of the world and sell my path away. i am a software developer myself and i prefer to pay for the effort of the developers rather than let my web access profile sold to third parties that i would rather not to. but maybe our profiles are too valuable that they cannot set a reasonable price tag on their browser to justify the whole thing.

    just my wish.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: the price of self

      It used to be called Opera v12 ... sadly missed. I paid for the earlier version (7?) Not sure when a decent browser will exist that can't be fingered by Google - even the natural successor to it, Vivaldi, is Chromium based ... And as someone else said, Firefox is rapidly sinking in many ways ...

    2. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: the price of self

      Or even better, one that you can just buy. Rather than renting for 5 of your earth dollars a month. You know, like in the old days

  13. Elledan Silver badge

    But privacy

    First they came for browser plugins (NPAPI), then the browser extension system in Firefox (XUL), then WebExtensions v1, and now it seems that v2 will be taken behind the barn for its final earth-bound performance.

    What irks me the most about these developments is how much it assumes that browser users are either morons or sheep (or both). While it's definitely true that by making APIs more powerful they also comes with more responsibility, there are in fact a lot of endusers who are not complete morons.

    Most of us survived the days with NPAPI-based plugins and even ActiveX-based plugins without as much as a scratch. And then there were those who managed to install every useless plugin that came with a CD in the mail. These same people will happily find other ways to have their system used in botnets and their personal data exploited. Often by filling in phishing forms and other forms of social engineering.

    Fact of the matter is that none of this is about protecting user privacy, or protecting them. This is only about restricting what a user (slash sheep slash victim) is allowed to do, and with it developers.

    If Google truly gave a damn about security and privacy, they'd take a good hard look at the security flaws in their JavaScript engine that allows for such fun things like snooping on other browser tabs or even outright escape the JS 'sandbox' (more of a sieve these days). Who even trusts running random JS from the Web on their system these days? You'd have to be an idiot or blissfully ignorant to allow that.

    Part of me is happy that there are NPAPI & XUL-enabled alternatives to Chrome (and modern Firefox), in the form of browsers like Pale Moon, Basilisk and kin. If I'm going to be shooting myself in the foot, I want to be the one who chose to do it through my own idiocy and not because of someone else's poor judgement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But privacy

      Elledan,

      "If I'm going to be shooting myself in the foot, I want to be the one who chose to do it through my own idiocy and not because of someone else's poor judgement."

      I would much rather forgo the whole 'Foot shooting' part, if possible, and hope to obviate the 'idiocy' problem by educating myself on what I need to know/avoid/etc.

      Of course, education is a full time ongoing requirement as the ground keeps shifting either by the 'Bad guys!!??' getting cleverer or the 'Good Guys !!??' trying more and more good ideas that won't impact their profit/money stream :)

      1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Re: But privacy

        ... obviate the 'idiocy' problem by educating myself on what I need to know/avoid/etc.

        Easy: CHROME

    2. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: But privacy

      "If Google truly gave a damn about security and privacy..."

      ... and on that day, Satan will be skating to work.

  14. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Linux in a VM running from a (virtual) Live CD

    For really bad sites (at times that seems like 90% of them!! ) I use a Linux Live CD (or DVD) running in a VM with no other storage. Whenever the VM is closed (virtual power off) all the downloaded crap is discarded with no damage to the system it is running on.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    House!

    "It is an evolution of the extension platform that takes into consideration both the changing web landscape and the future of browser extensions.""

  16. Binraider Silver badge

    Other products are available? Use em.

  17. ortunk
    Devil

    I wear tin-foil underwear

    when browsing...

  18. localzuk

    School filtering

    I wonder how this will affect school filtering extensions such as Securly? There's millions of users using those, and if it makes life more difficult for schools it wouldn't take much to push them away again...

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