Backlash prompts discreet Google Chrome ad blocker revision

Google Chrome API changes could derail ad blockers

Google appears to be wavering in its fulsome support for ad block tech after outlining a proposed change to the API used by Chrome extensions.

This could undermine the ability of existing ad blockers such as Ghostery, uBlock Origin and AdBlock Plus, to function properly.

Part of a wholesale update of Chrome extensions to crack down on malicious additions, known as Manifest V3, the changes ostensibly seek to boost browsing speeds by removing ‘arbitrary’ JavaScript actions.

Claims presented in a report by Cliqz, developer of the Ghostery ad blocker, found that the real-world performance of ad blockers was impeded by the new extensions, despite the fact that they are already extremely efficient to run, with a negligible performance hit of less than 0.05 milliseconds.

In a blog post, Cliqz wrote: “They (Google) pretend to do this for the sake of privacy and browser performance, however in reality, users would be left with only very limited ways to prevent third parties from intercepting their surfing behavior or to get rid of unwanted content. Whether Google does this to protect their advertising business or simply to force its own rules on everyone else, it would be nothing less than another case of misuse of its market-dominating position. If this comes true, we will consider filing an anti-trust complaint.”

The possible concessions come against a backdrop of vociferous opposition from developers and the public, not to mention legal threats, but Google insists that the proposed changes are still being drafted.

The built-in Google Chrome ad blocker is scheduled to go live in July.

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