Friday, June 21, 2019

Chrome to Limit Ad Blocking Extensions

Kyle Bradshaw (via Eva):

Google is essentially saying that Chrome will still have the capability to block unwanted content, but this will be restricted to only paid, enterprise users of Chrome. This is likely to allow enterprise customers to develop in-house Chrome extensions, not for ad blocking usage.

For the rest of us, Google hasn’t budged on their changes to content blockers, meaning that ad blockers will need to switch to a less effective, rules-based system, called “declarativeNetRequest.”

Justin Schuh (via Dan Masters):

The sole motivation here is correcting major privacy and security deficiencies in the current system. I know, because I set that focus, and the team reports up through me. And here’s a bit more context on the uBlock assertions.

Justin Schuh:

Chrome does let sysadmins manage things beyond user-facing settings (without paying anyone anything!). That’s because enterprises have complex needs and admins responsible for assessing security, privacy, and perf tradeoffs that we can’t foist on the average user.

Then there’s the uBlock Origin arguments. The big problem with webRequest is unfixable privacy and security holes. They ignored that to solely argue perf, but then ignored the biggest perf cost of every webRequest extension stacking a full renderer process, blocking IPC, etc.

Simeon Vincent:

Each of these groups has their own distinct maximum number of allowed rules. These current placeholder max values are specified in the DNR properties documentation. 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.


Update (2019-06-25): Tanner Bennett:

Some good snippets from the forum thread

1/ “Also, privacy concerns have yet to be substantiated…. Worth noting is the content usually blocked using existing APIs/extensions is much more privacy intrusive: give me an advertising provider that actually respects privacy…”

2/ “Chromium devs pushing this change that no one seems to need and…without…the research that justifies the change makes them and Google look arrogant and uncaring, while covering it all under the “security, privacy, and performance” cliche.

… We haven’t even yet seen the evidence, e.g. a performance analysis or some in-depth metrics that show why webRequest API must be limited and why it should be a global rewrite of the API.”

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

It's been ironic to see people calling for Chrome users to switch to Safari because of this, not realizing that Apple led the charge on this change a long time ago and didn't even leave an "enterprise" escape hatch.

"Privacy" and "security" are the new blunt tools to use against user freedom. They're irrelevant justifications for preventing me from running extensions I've written for my own personal use, but apparently I must be protected from myself. Even if you believed Apple when it cited privacy and security for the move to limit APIs, surely you should have some more skepticism when Google and Facebook spout the same script.

uBlock Origin works fine on Safari. It also works on Firefox. Generally, I don't use Chrome any more, as I no longer trust Google to have my best interests at heart at all times.

Plus Chrome is a massive CPU hog. It uses more CPU with 1 tab open than Safari does with 10. That’s what finally got me to switch back.

I'm now starting to switch all of my browsing over to Firefox. Firefox was great when it came out, then it started to suck, but I recently gave it another shot, and I feel that now, it's pretty fantastic again. It feels fast and modern and responsive. It actually feels better than the current Chrome versions, at least to me. There's also a super nice mobile version for Android phones (and I guess for iPhones, too, but I'm not sure how well browser integration on iOS works nowadays).

@Perry "uBlock Origin works fine on Safari."

For now, but it is still going to disappear, when Apple shuts down the Safari Extensions Gallery, or have I misunderstood it? Reading issues like this:

Skip the browser ad blocking extensions and just get AdGuard. It blocks garbage at the system level and doesn't seem to use very many resources. AdGuard + StopTheMadness = sane web browsing in Safari.

Leave a Comment