Responding to the controversy around an upcoming change to Chrome, Google says that Chrome isn’t killing ad blockers, the company is just "making them safer".
"We are not preventing the development of ad blockers or stopping users from blocking ads. Instead, we want to help developers, including content blockers, write extensions in a way that protects users’ privacy," said Devlin Cronin, member of Chrome Extensions Team.
A suite of internal Chrome platform changes Google calls Manifest V3 will impact how certain types of browser extensions, including ad-blockers, work. The changes impact extension developers the most are in a new API called Declarative Net Request, which replaces parts of an older Web Request API.
"Instead of a user granting each extension access to all of their sensitive data, we are creating ways for developers to request access to only the data they need to accomplish the same functionality. One example of this is the introduction of the Declarative Net Request API, which is replacing parts of the Web Request API," Cronin said.
With the current Web Request API, users grant permission for Chrome to pass all information about a network request - which can include things like emails, photos, or other private information - to the extension. In contrast, the Declarative Net Request API allows extensions to block content without requiring the user to grant access to any sensitive information. Additionally, because we are able to cut substantial overhead in the browser, the Declarative Net Request API can have significant, system-level performance benefits over Web Request," Cronin added.
This is a controversial change because so many popular extensions, especially ad blockers, rely on the Web Request API. Google says it is working with extension developers to help them update their offerings to work with the new API and that it will continue “iterating” Manifest V3 “to find solutions that both solve the use cases extensions have today and keep our users safe and in control.”
Google's primary revenue generator is ad sales. The company has worked with the advertising industry to create a built-in ad-blocker in Chrome that doesn’t actually block ads. This ad-blocker is coming next month.