Google is loosening restrictions on ad blockers

Google has released an update schedule for the latest version of its Chrome extension specifications, Manifest V3, after the current version, Manifest V2, came under fire for its ad-blocking limitations.

Google has announced that it will continue the transition to Manifest V3 with some major changes after pausing updates last year.

The changes include “improved content filtering support” for the Declarative Net Request API used by ad blocking extensions.

Google has previously recommended restricting API functionality for security reasons, which could impact the effectiveness of ad blockers across all Chromium-based browsers, including Chrome and Edge.

Developers and privacy advocates have resisted the change, and Firefox has even developed a workaround for the upcoming restrictions.

Google will continue to discontinue use of Manifest V2 for the time being and will automatically deactivate the Manifest V2 plug-in in users' browsers in June 2024.

Currently, users will not be able to download the Manifest V2 extension from the Chrome Web Store.

So far, the changes have been received positively by Andrei Meshkov, chief technology officer at ad blocking service AdGuard.

“These changes allow the ad blocker to offer almost the same filtering quality as Manifest V2,” Meshkov said in a blog post.

Alexei Mezhkov, chief technology officer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, noted that Manifest V3 imposed unnecessary restrictions on developers.

“These changes are useful, even if they are modifications to a limited design of the system,” Myagkov said. The biggest problem remains the same: when add-ons don't innovate, users lose and trackers win. “We are all counting on Google to continue developing APIs to keep up with advertisers and trackers.”

This change indicates that Google is trying to ease restrictions on ad blockers, although the company has not supported such additions recently.

Last month, YouTube launched a global campaign against ad blockers that prevented some users from watching videos while the add-on was running.

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