Owner of the most lucrative online ad platform, Google is directly interested in putting an end to Ad-Block extensions, with the American giant creating Manifest V3, a new Chrome extension format that should “disarm” Chrome extensions used to block ads.
Directly motivated to “sell” users as many ads as possible through platforms like Google Ads, preferably while collecting as much data about them as possible, Google/Alphabet has been looking for years to tweak the Chrome extension system so that it disarms those solutions used for ad-blocking and privacy protection.
The new Chrome extension format, called Manifest V3, was supposed to have entered the “stable channel” as of January 2021, so that extensions like the popular AdBlock would remain but a memory for users of any web browser developed to use the Chrome extension collection.
Defying all expectations, Chrome still uses the older and more powerful Manifest V2 system. The first decisive steps toward removing Manifest V2 were supposed to begin in January 2023, but again, Google says it’s postponing the mandatory transition to Manifest V3 and won’t announce a new timeline for retiring V2-ready support until at least March.
Caught in a survival competition with rival Google, developer Firefox didn’t shy away from announcing early on that it would retain support for its current collection of Chrome extensions, even though they would no longer be compatible with Google’s browser. Taking the strategy one step further, Mozilla announces that it has found a way to preserve the functionality of Ad-Block extensions even after the transition to the new Manifest V3 format. For now, we can only assume that the limitation is one found in the Chrome browser, which Firefox will be able to bypass without directly violating Google’s requirements for V3 extensions.
Apparently, the method found by Mozilla relies on exploiting security features specifically left by Google, which could affect the performance of those extensions. For now, all we can hope for is that other developers using the Chromium engine will access the “loopholes” highlighted by Mozilla, forcing Google to accept new concessions that avoid overly aggressive performance penalties for future Chrome extensions.