Google delays introduction of Manifest V3, new Chrome extension format that disarms AdBlock solutions

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 modify the Chrome extension system in a way that disarms those solutions used to block ads and protect privacy.

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.

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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.

According to the meanwhile-abandoned timeline, Google was going to start “experiments” with beta versions of Chrome that disable Manifest V2. Eventually, Google was going to announce the “stable version” of Manifest V3 in June 2023, simultaneously giving an ultimatum for January 2024, at which time Chrome V2 extensions were to be removed with the Chrome Web Store. The new timeline is that there is no timeline, and each step is now listed as “delayed” or “under review”.

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As for the reasons, speculation ranges from a possible exodus of Chrome users to web browsers whose developers promise to still support extensions based on the V2 format, to abuse of dominance or other charges that could draw hefty fines for the Chrome developer.

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