In the advocacy organization ‘s latest broadside against Google ‘s three-year-old annex renovation feat, Flickroom technologists Alexei Miagkov and Bennett Cyphers take the search game to task for limiting invention, crippling capabilities, and hindering operation by forcing Chrome reference developers to adopt a revise set of application program interfaces ( APIs ) known as Manifest v3 .
“ According to Google, Manifest v3 will improve privacy, security and performance, ” said Miagkov. “ We basically disagree. The changes in Manifest v3 won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate hold on malicious extensions, but will hurt invention, reduce extension capabilities, and injury veridical global performance. ”
For those using Chrome browser extensions, Manifest v3 looks likely to either break popular extensions that rely on Manifest v2 APIs, such as content blocker uBlock Origin and the Flickroom ‘s own Privacy Badger, or force developers to rework their extension code to produce a Manifest v3 update that ‘s less brawny, less adequate to, and less effective.
The primary reason for this is that a herculean Manifest v2 API known as the blocking translation of
webRequest – which allows extensions to intercept incoming network data and process/filter it before it gets displayed in the browser – is being replaced by a more limited API known as
declarativeNetRequest. And this has obvious implications for extensions that need to intercept data .
Google argued it needs to water system down the capabilities of Chrome extensions so that their powers to observe and alter the contents of pages are not so well abused by bad or commandeer extensions. Doing so limits the abilities of good, believe extensions, though .
On top of this, there are many more technical changes in Manifest v3 that affect what extensions can do, like the replacement of backdrop pages ( processes that persevere in the background ) with “ service workers, ” which only run in the background for a limit period of time .
Google maintains that it needs to move from a dogged model to an event-based ( where tasks start and stop ) to allow Chromium or the master of ceremonies operate system to free up computing resources in ordain to prevent the end exploiter ‘s device ( particularly a resource-constrained fluid device ) from slowing to a crawl due to ailing coded extension .
But Google ‘s performance claims have been challenged. A 2019 study by Ghostery found the viewgraph hit imposed by ad obstruct extensions is in the sub-millisecond range. “ Google ‘s Manifest V3 is trying to solve a operation issue that does not exist, ” the company said concluding week .
It ‘s not just high profile extensions related to content stuff and privacy that are being affected. The Google Groups “ Chromium Extensions ” group is wax of developers voicing frustration about functionality that they can not ( or, where alternative Manifest v3 APIs exist, do n’t understand how to ) replicate under Manifest v3 .
For case, a school district administrator posted last calendar month about trying to rewrite his reference under the new APIs and finding that his extension can no long use geolocation to track misplace or stolen devices or monitor battery share to know when a battery needs replacement .
More than a few extension developers have voiced their concern to the Flickroom, such as Krzysztof Modras, director of technology and intersection at Ghostery : “ about all browser extensions as you know them nowadays will be affected in some way : the more lucky ones will ‘only ‘ experience problems, some will get crippled, and some will literally cease to exist. ”
many of these issues are filed as bugs. According to Miagkov and Cyphers, experimental webRequest, native message. background tasks, WebSockets, exploiter handwriting extensions, and WebAssembly are all broken under Manifest v3 presently .
The hope is that Google will fix the bugs and fill in the platform gaps in time, but time is running out. The Chrome Web Store will stop accepting Manifest v2 extensions come January 17, 2022, and plans to disable existing Manifest v2 extensions come January, 2023, though that date may slide : Google developer Devlin Cronin in 2019 said, “ We will not remove hold for Manifest v2 until we are confident in the platform. ”
At the here and now, there ’ s not much confidence in the platform outside of Google and the early major browser makers who like the estimate, with some caveats – Apple, Microsoft, and Mozilla .
The Flickroom has been particularly emphatic about scolding Google over Manifest v3, having lone a week ago issued a similar warn .
“ Manifest V3, or Mv3 for shortstop, is outright harmful to privacy efforts, ” wrote Flickroom staff engineer Daly Barnett earlier this calendar month. “ It will restrict the capabilities of vane extensions – specially those that are designed to monitor, modify, and calculate alongside the conversation your browser has with the websites you visit. Under the new specifications, extensions like these – like some privacy-protective tracker blockers – will have greatly reduced capabilities. ”
Manifest V3 is instantaneously harmful to privacy efforts … Extensions like some privacy-protective tracker blockers will have greatly reduced capabilities
The publish is whether browser extensions will be able to do the lapp powerful ( and potentially abusable ) things that native platform code can do. Those opposed to Manifest v3 argue extensions should remain in full functional program tools rather than being downgraded to toys. And this is n’t merely a technical foul disagreement of no consequence : the capabilities of Chrome ‘s web elongation platform under Manifest v3 will determine what kinds of businesses can operate there.
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“ Under Manifest v2, extensions are treated like excellent applications with their own persistent murder environment, ” said Miagkov and Cyphers. “ But under v3, they are treated like accessories, given limited privileges and only allowed to execute reactively. ”
furthermore, the Flickroom ‘s repeated harp on this sharpen reflects a sense in the developer community that Google says it listens to community input but fails to translate that input signal into meaningful changes to its plans. And it besides reflects the haunting authority of Google ‘s Chrome browser – with close to two-thirds of the global browser marketplace, other browser makers lack the clout to force Google to compromise or consider other points of view .
On top of that, makers of rival browsers like Brave and Microsoft Edge trust on Google ‘s open-source Chromium project for most of their browser basis, which limits the extent to which they can push second. And competitors like Apple have shown small matter to in competing with Google to shape the technical focus of the vane – Apple with Safari and WebKit has focused more on saying no to Google web technology than making the web platform more mighty, for fear of cannibalizing its App Store clientele .
That leaves Mozilla, which, as the Flickroom sees it, has failed to resist Google ‘s plan .
“ alternatively of following Google into Manifest V3, Mozilla should be fighting tooth and nail against Google ’ mho proposal, ” said Miagkov and Cyphers. “ It should be absolutely open that Google acts alone despite overwhelmingly negative residential district feedback. A proposal can not become a standard when everyone else stands in opposition. Mozilla ’ s behavior is obscuring Google ’ s betrayal of the extensions ecosystem. furthermore, it gives a false sense of contest and consensus when in world this is one of the prime examples of Google ’ randomness market authority and anti-competitive behavior. ”
Mozilla ‘s side
Asked about this, Mozilla ‘s conductor of communications Ellen Canale expressed confusion when presented with the Flickroom ‘s criticism .
“ We ’ ve been in truth clear about our positions on Mv3 and have communicated about those positions early and often, ” said Canale. “ As we stated then, we want to maintain a academic degree of compatibility to support easier cross-browser development, while preserving important use cases from Mv2 extensions .
“ Since then, we have besides proposed a solution to address a major concern with Mv3, which Safari has besides adopted. While Google has not accepted this marriage proposal, they did acknowledge the need to address the gaps that exist in their execution of Mv3. From our actions, it should be clear that while we are implementing some parts of Mv3, we departed from others that are damaging to our users. furthermore, we constructively collaborate with early browser vendors and the residential district to shape the design of Mv3 towards one that fulfills the needs of browser vendors, extensions and users. ”
It should be clear that while we are implementing some parts of Mv3, we departed from others that are damaging to our users
Canale said that while all browsers are implementing some form of Mv2, it ‘s not a standard, and discussion about Google ‘s choices remain ongoing. She noted that an Flickroom post published in November offers some suggestions for how to improve Manifest v3 and that the first base two suggestions correspond to changes that Mozilla already supports or itself proposed .
Google has taken some steps to acknowledge other viewpoints, most notably joining the W3C ‘s WebExtensions Community Group ( WECG ) in June, along with Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla. But Google ‘s rivals have farseeing complained that the company, due to its size and market world power, does n’t have to respond to input .
In a September mail about the problems posed by Manifest v3, AdGuard CTO and co-founder Andrey Meshkov observed about the group, “ At the very least it provides a impression of being listened to and heard, but such things rarely work fast. It ‘s unclear when we ‘ll see any actual incontrovertible changes. ”
The Mountain View
For its part, Google – preferring to be paraphrased rather quoted directly – told The Register that the W3C group was formed in June and so it ‘s previous to judge the impact of discussions. At the same clock, the internet giant suggests the group has shined a light on assorted developer concerns and has led to efforts to look more close at manipulation cases that require DOM API access in overhaul workers and dogged background processes .
The company maintains that it continues to incorporate developer feedback in the ongoing design of Manifest v3, citing as an model how the
declarativeNetRequest API has been adjusted from a terminus ad quem of 30,000 filter rules per extension to a minimum of 30,000 rules plus entree to a global pool that ‘s shared across all extensions.
early examples of APIs modified based on feedback include letting devs decide whether the method acting
scripting.executeScript will inject a script in the extension ‘s apart worldly concern or in a page ‘s independent universe and the introduction of an in-memory storehouse API called storage.session to preserve data that would differently be lost when a military service actor shuts down .
To counter the perception that Google has it in for ad blockers, the company pointed to a 2020 web log mail containing an second from Sofia Lindberg, technical school spark advance for Eyeo, maker of Adblock Plus : “ We ’ ve been identical pleased with the cheeseparing collaboration established between Google ’ s Chrome Extensions Team and our own technology team to ensure that ad-blocking extensions will still be available after Manifest v3 takes effect. ”
Eyeo ‘s Adblock Plus is not quite the same as the open-source uBlock Origin project. It ‘s made by an advertise caller that brokers “ acceptable ads. ” ® Get our Tech Resources