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Microsoft begins Manifest v3 tests in Edge that impacts extensions like content blockers


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Microsoft begins Manifest v3 tests in Edge that impacts extensions like content blockers

Microsoft announced today that extension developers are now able to test the new extension manifest v3 in the company's Edge browser.

 

When Google announced Manifest v3 for extensions back in January 2019, concern was voiced almost immediately over the company's plans. High profile extension creators such as Raymond Hill, best known for his work on uBlock Origin, stated that extensions like his would no longer be usable after the changes landed in Google Chrome. The new API had a limit of 30,000 rules whereas popular filter lists had 70,000 rules or more. Additionally, users can combine multiple filter lists and that would raise the limit even further. Google raised the limit to 150,000 in mid 2019 as a consequence.

 

Google plans to introduce a new API for content blocking activities in Chrome and deprecate the old one that all content blockers and other privacy and security extensions are using currently.

 

manifest v3 edge content blockers

 

Mozilla, and some Chromium-based browser makers such as Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave, reassured users that they would not follow Google's lead on this.

 

Google implemented Manifest v3 in Chrome Canary 80 which it released back in November 2019. The implementation was primarily designed for extension developers to test their extensions against the new manifest file.

 

Microsoft announced that the Manifest V3 changes are available in the company's new Edge browser for testing. The changes are available for testing in the Beta and Stable channels of Microsoft Edge.

  • Microsoft Edge 84 Stable -- DNR (Declarative Net Request) API is available.
  • Microsoft Edge 85 Beta -- Header modification support is available.

Microsoft encourages developers to check out Google's Migrating to Manifest V3 document as it provides information needed to migrate extensions to the new Manifest v3.

 

Microsoft states that the changes won't "compromise the capabilities" of extensions or "reduce the potential that the ecosystem has".  The company believes that most concerns that developers of content blockers and the community raised are resolved or will be resolved before the currently used Web Request API is deprecated.

 

Manifest V3 introduces new security concepts that improve user privacy and security. Extensions may no longer use remotely hosted code, controls are introduced to allow or restrict extension access to websites at runtime, and extensions will have the same permissions as the page they are injected into. Google has yet to decide on the Manifest v2 end of life date.

 

 

Microsoft begins Manifest v3 tests in Edge that impacts extensions like content blockers

 

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Microsoft begins Manifest v3 tests in Edge that impacts extensions like content blockers Microsoft announced today that extension developers are now able to test the new extension manifest v3

Microsoft will adopt Google Chrome's controversial Manifest V3 in Edge   Microsoft has decided to support the Google-proposed Manifest V3 in its Edge browser - based on the Chromium browser

Extensions may no longer use remotely hosted code - controls are introduced to allow or restrict extension access to websites at runtime these parts are good honestly, don't see anything wrong wi

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Mozilla, and some Chromium-based browser makers such as Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave, reassured users that they would not follow Google's lead on this.

Good luck if google removes all the code and related lines  :dunno:

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Microsoft will adopt Google Chrome's controversial Manifest V3 in Edge

 

Microsoft has decided to support the Google-proposed Manifest V3 in its Edge browser - based on the Chromium browser engine - despite continuing concern about the impact on content-filtering extensions such as ad blockers.

 

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The manifest is used by browser extensions to declare what permissions an extension requires, and is associated with a set of APIs through which the code can interact with web pages. Extensions are able to read and modify the content of the page, giving them high capability but also introducing privacy and security risks, in the case where a user installs a malicious or compromised extension.

 

In early 2019, Google came up with a proposal to make extensions safer but at the expense of some reduction in capability. In particular, the webRequest API, which lets the extension view, modify or block browser requests, is being deprecated in favour of a new and less powerful Declarative Net Request API. A common use for webRequest is ad blocking, but there are many other use cases.

 

It is a difficult matter as while Google is correct in stating that extensions can abuse webRequest, there are also suspicions that the company is keen to keep ads flowing because its business depends on it. We reported last year on a Google financial filing which highlighted ad-blocking technology as a threat that "could adversely affect our operating results."

 

Despite this, Google said in June 2019 that weakening ad blockers "is absolutely not the goal." The company also clarified that webRequest would remain as an observational API and that blocking, curiously, "will still be available to enterprise deployments."

 

The current state of play is that Manifest V3 remains "in active development" and Google has said: "We have not decided on a final end of life date for Manifest V2."

 

Microsoft could potentially have made support for the more powerful webRequest API a distinctive feature of Edge; and some users begged for it to do so, saying: "Please, please don't remove/change/limit this API." Those appeals appear not to have been heeded. In a new post, the Microsoft Edge team said: "We plan to support the Declarative Net Request API and other changes proposed as part of Manifest V3."

 

Further, the documentation states: "We're replacing Web Request API with Declarative Net Request API, but will continue to keep Web Request API’s observational capabilities."

Manifest v3 is already supported in the Edge stable release, but no timeline has been given for neutering webRequest, with the company saying, "Once the changes are finalized in Chromium, we will share an update on our timelines."

 

According to Microsoft: "After an extensive review of the concerns raised by content blockers and the community, we believe that a majority of those concerns have been resolved or will be resolved before Web Request API is deprecated."

 

There is of course wriggle room in "will be resolved" but there is no evidence that the community is equally confident.

 

Author of the uBlock Origin extension, Raymond Hill, told The Register that Microsoft (and Google's) claim that the changes improve privacy is false. "They are not deprecating the Web Request API, they are deprecating the *blocking ability* of the Web Request API – specifically, the 'webRequestBlocking' permission. The Web Request API will still be available and still be able to provide information about all network requests fired by the browser … as opposed to what those announcements state, the deprecation of the blocking ability of the webRequest API accomplishes nothing privacy-wise for content blockers since they will *still* require broad hosts permissions."

 

Hill said that other features such as run-time host permissions (RTHP) and forbidding remote code execution (RCE) are more effective for protecting privacy, but that these are not done with Manifest v3, since RTHP is a browser feature and forbidding RCE "is a store policy issue, not an API one … those Manifest v3 announcements improperly attribute virtues (RTHP and no-RCE) to Manifest v3 which are technically unrelated to Manifest v3."

 

Hill added that "the next time Google [or Microsoft] claims that Manifest V3 will be better for user privacy and security, don’t believe their hype … Manifest V3 will curtail innovation and hurt the privacy and security of Chrome users."

 

Microsoft's Edge has a tiny market share relative to Chrome, and its web advertising business is also tiny relative to that of Google, but it does have an advertising service and is therefore vulnerable to the same suspicion that it may want to protect this. That said, enterprise security is also top of mind for the company, so this may be as much to do with privacy, security and performance, the stated reasons.

 

Even with Microsoft and Google on the same page with regard to Manifest v3, users will have plenty of other options. Mozilla has a FAQ on the subject and states that "Firefox is not obligated to implement every part of v3" and that it has "no immediate plans to remove blocking webRequest." That said, the Firefox company adds that it is "waiting for more clarity and has begun investigating the effort needed to adapt." It is also possible for browsers to implement content-blocking technology that works outside of the extension API.

 

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