GOOGLE IS PLANNING some under the hood changes that could spell the end for ad-blockers in Chrome.
The current 'Manifest 3' document that shows upcoming change proposals including a line which tells us it would "strive to limit the blocking version of webRequest, potentially removing blocking options from most events".
The alternative of using declarativeNetRequest is offered, but that won't help some of the biggest adblockers in the world, which would, their owners claim. be completely crippled by the decision.
Although the webRequest API will be maintained, it will have its wings seriously clipped and that will require packages to have either a hefty rewrite or a complete rethink.
Some authors have said that declarativeNetRequest is no alternative and that their apps will just stop working.
So why is Google doing this? Quite simply, security. It's not the first move they've made in this direction. And if that sounds a bit bonkers, don't worry, read on, but beware, because here comes the science bit.
The argument is that declarativeNetRequest will let Chrome modify or redirect network requests, which will be used to speed the whole thing up.
It's also more secure, which means that nobody will be able to see those network requests. Whilst that's great for avoiding hackers, it also takes away the fundamental way in which adblockers identify and block adverts.
There are two things here. Firstly, whilst we're talking about the effect this will have on Chrome, we're actually talking about Chromium, the open source version of the browser which all others, apart from Firefox and Safari, customise to create Opera, Vivaldi and, soon, Microsoft Edge.
As it's unlikely that any of these browser makers will override the new API with the old one, that means that most browsers would soon block most ad-blockers.
The second, lest we forget, is that the internet isn't free. We think it's free because we don't pay for it directly in most cases, but for example, your ever-loving INQ has always employed qualified journalists, not just random bloggers. And we're not free.
As such, we have mixed feelings about this news. Whilst even we admit that having the option to block some of the more garish ads is great, this new ruling from Google may also make it a lot easier for us to make an honest living.
The next stage will be for advertisers to find a balance between visual appeal and intruding all over what you're trying to do. And that, my friends, is completely out of our hands.
That said, our publisher did try it. And we all know how that went. μ
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