Google provided an update on the development of Manifest V3, the first-next version of the platform that powers extensions on Google Chrome. If everything goes according to plan, users and developers will be transitioned to Manifest V3 in January 2023.
“Years in the making, Manifest V3 is more secure, performant, and privacy-preserving than its predecessor”, Google said. “It is an evolution of the extension platform that takes into consideration both the changing web landscape and the future of browser extensions.”
According to Google’s latest blog announcement, the new timeline for the Manifest V3 transition starts January 2023, which will also eradicate Manifest V2 support working on older extensions – forcing everyone to make the shift.
Beginning in June 2023, the company will run experiments with Chrome version 115 and shut off Manifest V2 in all channels, including stable ones. Additionally, the Chrome Web Store will officially stop accepting Manifest V2 extensions, and by January 2024, it will be removed entirely from the web store.
Chrome Manifest V3
Google claims that the new platform delivers enhanced privacy, performance and security. “Manifest V3 is one of the most significant shifts in the extensions platform since it launched a decade ago”, the organization said.
According to Ars Technica, the technology has some major drawbacks. The website cited changes in network request modifications as one of the greatest disadvantages of Manifest V3. Rather than intercepting a request and modifying it procedurally, the extension asks Chrome to evaluate and modify requests on its behalf.
The built-in feature forces privacy and ad block extensions to ignore dynamic filtering rules and utilizes a raw list of up to 30,000 blocked URLs. On the contrary, an ordinary ad blocker allows up to 300,000 blocked URLs.
EFF is concerned that Google is manipulating its market leader position to protect its business model by restricting privacy protection and ad block extensions. The privacy group called Manifest V3 “deceitful and threatening”.
“It will restrict the capabilities of web extensions—especially those that are designed to monitor, modify, and compute alongside the conversation your browser has with the websites you visit”, EFF added. “Under the new specifications, extensions like these — like some privacy-protective tracker blockers—will have greatly reduced capabilities.”
The privacy group raised concerns regarding Manifest V3’s evaluation and inspecting capabilities, and highlighted that Google isn’t taking any steps to prevent bad actors from stealing data. Furthermore, a recent study shows that the technology degrades browser performance.