It’s not official yet, but the day seems to be drawing ever nearer: the popular ad-blocking extension uBlock Origin may not be available for the desktop version of Google’s Chrome browser for very much longer.
A new developer version of this open-source, cross-browser and cross-platform extension has been rejected by Google’s Chrome Web Store (CWS), developer Raymond Hill announced in an issue he opened on GitHub.
And since developer versions eventually become stable versions, while Hill doesn’t seem to plan on re-submitting the build – this crisis, while not immediate for Chrome users, looks to be just around the corner.
The email Hill received from Google said the extension did not comply with the rule that it must have “a single purpose that is clear to users.”
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But the developer made it clear he would not submit the version once again – because, for one, he maintains that uBlock Origin doesn’t “bundle unrelated functionality.” And for another, as Hill points out, “my experience with the CWS in the past is that we will never know why it was labeled ‘REJECTED’, they never disclose the exact ‘why’.”
It’s important to think of this in the context of Google’s upcoming new version of its extensions APIs, Manifest V3, that will fundamentally degrade the ability of extensions to block, modify, or redirect unwanted traffic. Developers unwilling to follow these changes are expected to abandon their projects for Chrome.
Google’s reasoning behind Manifest V3 clear: now that it dominates several key online markets, including the browser market, the company feels comfortable in ousting adblockers to let advertising fully spread its wings. Cold comfort, of course, for those users who are relying on adblocking to navigate the web.
This has been a controversial and upsetting development in the works for a while now, set to leave Chrome users exposed to intrusive advertising, invading tracking, and visual clutter. It should be said, however, that uBlock Origin is not the only available adblocker – although with Manifest V3, all of them will have their core purpose and functionality undermined on Google’s browser.
At the same time, Chrome is not the only browser out there, and uBlock Origin, that became popular as an open-source, resources-friendly, and reliable extension, will continue to be available in a number of others.