It's been 9 months since Google announced major changes to the Manifest V3, a document in which the company provides details on the capabilities of the extensions for your browser.
Version 3 is in the process of gestation and the debates about it have not rested. So shortly after angry users kept threatening to quit the browser, Google engineers just promised that future changes to Chrome's extension system won't cripple ad blockers as everyone fears.
The company says changes through the new API will improve user privacy and speed up improvements.
In addition, Google has promised to increase the maximum limit of the number of filters, this, to put an end to the main criticisms issued by ad blocker developers in recent months.
Google disclosed that it has been observing these changes since October last year. In the midst of the battle against the increase in malicious extensions on its platform, with this it has announced the entry into force of new rules in the extension review process, but also changes in the base code taken in Extensions.
While there was little discussion at first about the upcoming changes to Manifest V3, in January the developers of various ad blockers raised an issue with the web API.
The fear expressed by developers: the new API may prevent your extensions from inspecting web pages just as efficiently.
The original web request API interrupts the loading of a page while browsing its content for ads or other content that the extension can block or modify.
On its latest release, Google pointed out that this old API was a source of abuse which was used by malicious developers. In Google's published figures, 42% of malicious extensions detected since January last year were based on the web request API.
"With the web request, Chrome sends all the data from a network request to the listener extension, including the sensitive data from that request, such as personal photos or emails," says Google
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The declarativeNetRequest API works in a different approach
Rather than the extension based on the latter, stopping web requests and inspecting all content, the latter sets the rules that the browser reads and applies to each web page before loading.
With this new API, extensions never receive data from a page and the browser only makes changes to a page when one or more declared rules are respected. In this way, all the confidential data that can be included in a page (emails, photos, passwords, etc.) remains at the browser level and is never transmitted to the extensions. According to Google, the new API is better in terms of confidentiality, but also speed.
In January of the current year, Ad blockers have argued that despite the benefits presented through the new API, Google planned to limit filters to 30,000, a number considered insufficient by ad maintainers.
In January, Raymond Hill uBlock Origin and uMatrix extensions were the authors (among others) of the popular Easylist block list with 42,000 filters. Google has reviewed this detail and announces the passage of the filter limit from 30,000 to 150,000.
The Opera, Brave and Vivaldi may not make the switch
In general, Chromium-based browser developers have made announcements that they will not align with changes that can be harmful to users.
In addition to the ad blockers that integrate their respective browsers, the trend in Opera and Brave is to continue with the support of the old Web Request API, which will allow extensions such as uBlock and uMatrix to continue working without problems.
While at Vivaldi, how the API change will be addressed will depend on Google's final decisions.