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Google Chrome to Offer Full Ad Blocking Features Only to Enterprise Users

Google proposed the Manifest V3 standard to limit ad blockers back in January.

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Google Chrome to Offer Full Ad Blocking Features Only to Enterprise Users

Google Chrome is currently using webRequest API to enable ad blocking

Highlights
  • Google confirmed the change in response to developer complaints
  • It is bringing declarativeNetRequest API over the existing solution
  • The move would allegedly limit a large number of ad blockers

Google has responded to the issues raised by developer community pertaining to its move restricting ad blockers, and revealed that it would continue to enable complete ad blocking capabilities but only for paid, enterprise Chrome users. The new change comes months after the search giant faced outrage for proposing the Manifest V3 standard, which is aimed to replace the existing webRequest API with declarativeNetRequest API. The new API would limit the ways in which ad blocking extensions can be used to filter Web traffic. Notably, the proposed change was announced back in January and since then, a large number of extension developers are protesting the move.

"Chrome is depreciating the blocking capabilities of the webRequest API in Manifest V3, not the entire webRequest API (though blocking will still be available to enterprise deployments)," Google clarified while responding to the feedback it has received on the proposed changes.

The response explicitly shows that Google is not moving entirely to the proposed alternative. However, it does highlight that the company is set to retain the existing webRequest API only for enterprise users -- specifically the ones who'll pay to use Chrome.

In other words, for all the developers who aren't targeting enterprise users, Google won't make any major changes and will still stick to the Manifest V3 that it announced in January.

As many extension developers earlier noted in their complaints, the arrival of declarativeNetRequest API would make ad blockers less effective. "Extensions act on behalf of users, they add capabilities to a user agent, and deprecating the block ability of the webRequest API will essentially decrease the level of user agency in Chromium, to the benefit of websites which obviously would be happy to have the last word in what resources their pages can fetch/execute/render," uBlock Origin and uMatrix extensions maker Raymond Hill had alleged while protesting against the new change.

One of the prime concerns of developers for complaining against the declarativeNetRequest API is the limit of 30,000 rules and cannot allow for rules such as blocking content elements beyond a certain size. Google has mentioned in its latest response that it is set to increase the original limit.

"We are planning to raise these values but we won't have updated numbers until we can run performance tests to find a good upper bound that will work across all supported devices," the company said.

By limiting ad-blockers through its new development, Google was alleged to protect its ad-driven business model. A recent SEC Form 10-K filing by Google parent Alphabet does acknowledge the loss, as noticed by 9to5Google. The company underlines ad blocking extensions as a "risk factor" to Google's revenues.

That being said, Google won't be able to implement the changes it planned under the Manifest V3 document anytime soon. It would take some time to convince extension developers and continue to make Chrome and the entire Chromium project friendly enough for developers.

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