Chrome May Restrict Ad Blockers

John Lister's picture

Google has confirmed it will limit the way ad blockers work in Chrome next year. Critics have called it a conflict of interests.

The changes are to extensions, the third-party tools that users can add to Chrome to improve their web browsing experience. While extensions can do anything from translate web pages to make it easier to browse Netflix, ad blockers are some of the most popular types of extension.

Extensions for Chrome must follow a specification called Manifest. Many current extensions use version 2 of this specification, but all newly added ones must use version 3. Google now says it will start phasing out version 2 in June 2024, meaning that at some point soon after, all extensions must use version 3.

Rules Restricted

The reason ad blocker developers are up in arms is that version 3 includes a limit on the number of rules an extension can follow, something it says is necessary to reduce the amount of memory an extension uses. In the case of ad blockers, a rule could cover how Chrome decides to block or show particular ads based on their content, who provides them, or where they appear.

Rules can also cover whitelist items, where a user blocks ads by default but allows them to appear on a trusted ad, for example where they value a site's content and wish to support it.

Google had planned to limit extensions to 5,000 rules but has now agreed to expand this to 30,000 rules where a rule involves either blocking or allowing content. That may sound like a huge amount, but one of the most popular ad blockers uses more than 300,000 rules. (Source:

Another change is that extensions won't be able to filter based on the URL shown in the address bar. That's designed to reduce security threats, but could be a significant limitation to ad blockers.

Firefox Follows Suit

Online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation says Google has a clear conflict of interest in restricting ad blockers in its browser when it is one of the largest players in the online ad market. (Source:

It's not just Chrome that could be affected. The makers of Firefox says it will also adopt the Manifest version 3 specifications to make it easier for extension developers to make tools that work in multiple browsers.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use ad blockers? Is Google taking a reasonable approach here? Should Google relax its rules but warn users if an extension could use a lot of memory?

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buzzallnight's picture

and you are running brave which won't update chrome anymore either...
and you already have a very good adblocker loaded...

It wouldn't affect you at all,


Draq's picture

Ad blockers aren't just a convenience these days; they're necessary for security reasons. Limiting them only makes it easier for malware to be spread through malvertising. The folks over at Google either don't understand this or they just don't care, because ad blockers do affect their bottom line.