Google Chrome to Limit Ad Blocking Capabilities of the webRequest API to Enterprise Users

Google engineers recently proposed changes to the Chrome browser that would limit developers' access to an API that browser extensions commonly use to perform ad blocking. Specifically, Google plans to deprecate parts of the webRequest API that make it possible for developers to block ads with their extensions. Under the proposal, developers would only be able to access the parts of the API that observe requests.

But after developers such as the team behind the EFF's Privacy Badger extension raised concerns, Simeon Vincent, a developer advocate for Chrome extensions at Google, revealed that Google will allow paying enterprise Chrome users to continue to access the full API. According to Vincent, the ability to observe requests is "foundational for extensions that modify their behavior based on the patterns they observe at runtime" and non-enterprise Chrome users will still be able to use this part of the webRequest API.

Google is also adding new functionality, such as the ability to modify web requests, request headers and URL parameters, to a number of other APIs.

Some developers, however, say that Google's modified proposal doesn't address their concerns. Raymond Hill, the developer who created the popular uBlock Origin and uMatrix privacy extensions, says that the removal of blocking capabilities for non-enterprise Chrome users will effectively break these extensions. He believes that Google's decision to remove blocking capabilities is based on the threat that ad blocking poses to the search giant's multi-billion dollar advertising business.

Be sure to read the next Browsers article: Google Argues That It's Chrome API Changes are Good for Browser Extension Developers


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