GOOGLE BREAK AD BLOCKERS WITH UPCOMING CHROME CHANGE


It’s an unintended consequence of a security and performance upgrade plan. Google says it doesn’t want to disable content blocking.

A Google plan to improve the Chrome web browser has triggered an explosion of concern that it’ll also cripple extensions designed to block ads, improve privacy and protect against security problems.

Google’s proposed approach would torpedo ad blocker uBlock Origin, tracker blocker Ghostery, privacy and password manager Privowny, JavaScript software blocker NoScript and a malware blocker from F-Secure, according to their developers.

In a statement Wednesday, though, Google said it’s trying to improve Chrome while keeping all those extensions working.

“We want to make sure all fundamental use cases are still possible with these changes and are working with extension developers to make sure their extensions continue to work while optimizing the extensions platform and better protecting our users,” the company said in a statement.

The controversy shows the difficulties that arise from Chrome’s dominance 10 years after its debut. Google’s browser accounts for 62 percent of website usage today, according to analytics firm StatCounter.

But if a Google change causes problems, then extension authors and website developers can be stuck with it unless they can get millions of people to change to a different browser like Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari.

Chrome’s power also is amplified by the fact that other browsers, including Vivaldi, Opera, Brave and soon Microsoft Edge, use Chrome’s open-source foundation, called Chromium.

Extensions let you customize web browser behavior to do things like take screenshots, manage tabs, disable websites’ potentially risky JavaScript software and even replace photos of President Donald Trump with images of kittens.

But ad blockers are a top extension use.

Indeed, it was one of the uses Google specifically called for when it first revealed its Chrome extensions plan in 2008.

uBlock Origin has been installed more than 10 million times, for example, according to Chrome Web Store statistics.

Ghostery developer Cliqz said Google’s proposed change is radical, and threatened legal action if it goes forward.

“This would basically mean that Google is destroying ad blocking and privacy protection as we know it,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.

“Whether Google does this to protect their advertising business or simply to force its own rules on everyone else, it would be nothing less than another case of misuse of its market-dominating position.

If this comes true, we will consider filing an antitrust complaint.