Google Moves to Significantly Hamstring Chrome's Ad Blockers
June 6, 2019 12:46 PM   Subscribe

In fall 2019, adblockers such as uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger will likely stop working on Chrome, unless you're a paid enterprise user. "Chrome is deprecating the blocking capabilities of the webRequest API in Manifest V3," writes Simeon Vincent, developer advocate for Chrome extensions at Google.

uBlock Origin's developer, Raymond Hill, notes that Google's 2018 10K filing notes that "technologies [that] block the display of ads altogether [...] adversely affect our operating results." Google wants adblockers to start using the declarativeNetRequest API, which limits the number of rules to 30,000 and requires that any list updates go through Google's extension-update approval process, unlike Chrome's own baked-in adblocker.

It's argued that adblockers' current access level is too powerful. But by comparison, the popular EasyList (used by most adblockers) has 70,000 rules, although the people behind the Brave browser say that 63,000 of those are never used (PDF link).

Coverage by Ars Technica and Hacker News.

Reaction by Vivaldi, and it's obvious Firefox is going in the opposing direction.
posted by WCityMike (99 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
Time to switch to Firefox or Brave. I tried to do the former earlier this year but it just didn't seem to be as fast.
posted by theorique at 12:53 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Firefox keeps getting better and better.
posted by grouse at 12:53 PM on June 6 [46 favorites]


Guess I'll give it another chance.

I'm not sure what it is, but Firefox just doesn't seem to be as responsive as Chrome, but I'm glad to try it out again.
posted by theorique at 12:56 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I use Brave on my phone and never had any problems with it. It's fucking awesome at blocking ads. So much so that I have now successfully trained myself out of using Google Assistant for searches because it automatically returns results in Chrome... UNREADABLE.

I should put Brave on my laptop too, hmm.
posted by MiraK at 12:59 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I tried to switch to Firefox, but apparently if I want to I need to either find a way to manually transfer each password for every login one at a time, because if you're on a Mac there's no damn way for you to export or transfer passwords out of Chrome, or find a Windows machine because Windows will in fact allow this.

Not sure who needs to be hit in the face with a hammer, but there we go.
posted by mephron at 1:01 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Just downloaded Brave and am commenting with it right now. Seems pretty zippy.
posted by octothorpe at 1:07 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I use Stands, which seems to block most ads.
posted by JamesBay at 1:08 PM on June 6


ARE YOU READING THIS, GOOGLE? WE ARE DISCUSSING HOW TO LEAVE YOU.

Freaking morons.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:13 PM on June 6 [57 favorites]


I'd switched to Chrome since one of the extensions I like was much more frequently updated, but I guess I'll be going back to Firefox. I'd rather deal with an occasional extension headache than see ads clutter up my screen.
posted by tautological at 1:15 PM on June 6


the people behind the Brave browser say that 63,000 of those are never used

... in a sample of about 10,000 web pages. Nearly 0.00000001% of the entire world wide web!

I'm not sure what the performance concern of having large numbers of rules is meant to be. It's not as if the engine needs to go through each rule one at a time: Computers have this thing called a hash table, which can do this sort of thing very quickly if the new API (and the extensions using the old one) are well designed. The main cost should be memory, and 70,000 of something is not a whole lot by modern standards. We're talking a few megabytes. But it's sort of beside the point, which is that this is a bad move by Chrome, and the argument that it's just too powerful a capability to give us is a stupid one.
posted by sfenders at 1:15 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]



I tried to switch to Firefox, but apparently if I want to I need to either find a way to manually transfer each password for every login one at a time, because if you're on a Mac there's no damn way for you to export or transfer passwords out of Chrome, or find a Windows machine because Windows will in fact allow this.

Not sure who needs to be hit in the face with a hammer, but there we go.


Apart from being categorically untrue, the violent rhetoric is unhelpful.
posted by Evstar at 1:18 PM on June 6 [34 favorites]


Been using Firefox for the last 8 months or so and I'm glad I ventured back, I've been pleased with performance and ad-blocking. Chrome is such a resource hog and Google just seems to be getting worse and worse. I may have to switch to a different email service soon. I'm tired of gmail as well.
posted by Fizz at 1:19 PM on June 6 [10 favorites]


and it's obvious Firefox is going in the opposing direction.


That link is truly encouraging. Especially the part about the Facebook Container, preventing Facebook from following your non-Facebook activity, and from building shadow profiles if non-Facebook-users

I love Firefox and use it on all my desktop setups (home and work). I just which I could run it on iPad, too.
posted by darkstar at 1:19 PM on June 6 [11 favorites]


> WE ARE DISCUSSING HOW TO LEAVE YOU.

Google is so large that we are statistically insignificant. Our impact on their market signal amounts to a rounding error in the natural fluctuations caused by random noise.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 1:19 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


Top Attack compares 11 internet browsers on speed, memory usage, security, modern standards, and features, or overall, and also listing whether the browser includes a number of specific features or not, including ad blocking.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:20 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Also just downloaded Brave. We'll see how far this takes me.
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 1:20 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I may have to switch to a different email service soon. I'm tired of gmail as well.


After that MeFi post a few weeks ago on how gmail was compiling a receipts list from my emails, I switched from gmail to ProtonMail for all of my shopping, and for financial and medical service providers, and have been quite pleased so far.

Still gotta use gmail for work, sadly.
posted by darkstar at 1:24 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


Proton mail you say? Looks like I'll be trying all kinds of new things today. Thanks!
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 1:27 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


I love Firefox and use it on all my desktop setups (home and work). I just which I could run it on iPad, too.

Wait, what? I use FF on my iPad and even the privately sippin' from the firehose version, Firefox Focus, with no problems.
posted by chavenet at 1:29 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Maybe give Brave a pass.

It's a company started by a guy who was ousted from Mozilla for being openly homophobic, and uses an extremely-convoluted mechanism to replace ads with their own ads.

Content-creators can theoretically recover up to 85% of the revenue from ads that Brave displays on your site via a convoluted cryptocurrency mechanism, but many creators have found it difficult to do so in practice (to the point where Brave may actually be violating anti-racketeering laws).

Additionally, certain beta versions of Brave transmit all browsing-history to Brave's corporate servers for ad-targeting purposes.

If you're looking for a new browser, I'd recommend giving Firefox a try. There are some (very occasional) annoyances to be dealt with, but overall it's great.
posted by schmod at 1:30 PM on June 6 [119 favorites]


I'm not sure what the performance concern of having large numbers of rules is meant to be.

I'm willing to bet that's just a customer-facing excuse for this move, because they don't want to admit they don't like people cutting in on their ad revenue when using their own product.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:32 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


I use FF on my iPad and even the privately sippin' from the firehose version, Firefox Focus, with no problems.


Whaaaaa...?


But...but...! Since when does Firefox run on iOS? This is happy news, indeed!


*dashes off to search for Firefox iOS*
posted by darkstar at 1:33 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


It's also worth noting that Google's caught a lot of flak for this in the past week. While they have not walked-back their plans, they've issued a handful of statements that seem to indicate that they may be preparing to walk-back some of these changes.

I'm not entirely willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt, but I wouldn't be surprised if blocking 70,000+ URL patterns is well outside of the original scope/intent of the SDKs currently used by ad-blockers in Chrome, and may be causing significant performance problems elsewhere...
posted by schmod at 1:35 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Firefox for iOS still uses Safari as the underlying rendering engine. There's not much point in using it. You're not going to sidestep any of Safari's many bugs (or, say, have the ability to run a modern browser on an older iOS device)

Firefox on Android is the real deal, though.
posted by schmod at 1:36 PM on June 6 [11 favorites]




Just now installed Firefox iOS and using it. Seems to be working okay!

Dismayed to hear that it uses Safari underneath, though, does that mean Safari is still getting the data? If so, how secure is Firefox iOS if everything is passing through Safari?

Also, chavenet, what is the point if Firefox Focus on iOS? Is it somehow more data-secure?
posted by darkstar at 1:46 PM on June 6


This is why I use Firefox, despite it's problems, and Mozilla being, frankly, a not very well run organization.
posted by riruro at 1:46 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Safari engine or not, there are still uses for 3rd party browsers on iOS. Firefox lets me share history and tabs with my desktop machines regardless of operating system.
posted by Lorin at 1:48 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


darkstar: I like Firefox Focus as a way to concentrate on just one thing for a bit. I think the point is probably to let you dip in to certain sites and then disappear your history when you leave. Plus it blocks just about every tracker & other invasive nonsense.
posted by chavenet at 1:50 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: a rounding error in the natural fluctuations caused by random noise.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:53 PM on June 6 [17 favorites]


I've been playing with Opera with their built-in adblocker, which seems mostly satisfactory. Although I'm tempted to put in hosts-file blocking on my personal computer.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:54 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I had gotten spoiled using the "remember my passwords" feature on Chrome, because I like to practice good security (well, halfway decent security) and use different passwords for everything.

When I switch to Firefox, am I better off using Firefox Sync's built in password storage or outsourcing it to LastPass?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 1:54 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Brave is a scam and is the opposite of the browser you should choose if you want ad blocking. Please don't use it. Firefox is an excellent option if you are looking to switch from Chrome or Safari.

I think this ad blocker thing is a bit overblown though. Ad blockers will still work in Chrome, via a mechanism similar to how they work in Safari. They won't work quite as well and I agree it's a real shame Google is removing the extension API that allows for more flexible blocking. FWIW they have a non-ads reason they've stated, a general crackdown on the risks of extensions. I don't agree with what they're doing but it's not entirely crazy or greed motivated.

One thing I'm trying to understand better is a comment by a Chrome developer
We recognize that this kind of functionality is core to some extensions, so we provide the tools necessary to programmatically request host permissions if the user does not opt in at install time. Developers can retrieve the extension's current permissions grants using chrome.permissions.getAll() and can request host permissions or optional permissions declared in the extension's manifest using chrome.permissions.request().
If I read that right, he's saying that uBlock could still request the old blocking API at runtime and if the user gives it permission, it will run. That seems fine to me? But maybe there's some catch or reason it won't work as well.
posted by Nelson at 1:55 PM on June 6 [15 favorites]


I'll spare you all my full-length rant about Brave, but please remember it does not exist to block ads; it exists to replace ads with new ads (and siphon off a slice of website's revenue in the process.) Brave is not the good guys.
posted by ook at 1:56 PM on June 6 [30 favorites]


(I'm sorta stuck being a multi-browser person, so I use KeepassXC for passwords. IMO the risk of side-channel attacks within browsers raises some questions about in-browser password management.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:59 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


When I switch to Firefox, am I better off using Firefox Sync's built in password storage or outsourcing it to LastPass?

Relying on Firefox to remember passwords seemed pretty insecure to me because either you a) commit to entering your master password anytime the browser loads (or cancelling a pop-up dialog) or b) your passwords are viewable to anyone using your open browser window. This was some months ago so I don't know if that's been changed.

I tried LastPass for a month, then I gave 1Password a go to compare. 1Password won my dollar for having more reliable software on every platform I use: macOS, Firefox and Android.
posted by Evstar at 2:00 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]



I had gotten spoiled using the "remember my passwords" feature on Chrome, because I like to practice good security (well, halfway decent security) and use different passwords for everything.

When I switch to Firefox, am I better off using Firefox Sync's built in password storage or outsourcing it to LastPass?


I recommend using BitWarden rather than Lastpass, and I recommend using an external password manager rather than your browser's internal one if for no other reason than it makes this sort of portability between browsers trivial.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:00 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


I always love these kinds of threads because I learn about a bunch of different bits of software that I could/should be using instead of my current setup. I've been on FF at home for a long time, and its time to extend that to work as well, along with checking out some other different ideas here.
posted by nubs at 2:07 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


ook: "I'll spare you all my full-length rant about Brave, but please remember it does not exist to block ads; it exists to replace ads with new ads (and siphon off a slice of website's revenue in the process.) Brave is not the good guys."

Well crap. Uninstalled then and installing FF.
posted by octothorpe at 2:12 PM on June 6 [10 favorites]


darkstar: Dismayed to hear that it uses Safari underneath, though, does that mean Safari is still getting the data? If so, how secure is Firefox iOS if everything is passing through Safari?

Apple's not getting any data from your web browsing in Firefox for iOS, or in Safari for iOS. One of the key differences between Apple and Google is that Apple's data collection is way more limited and uses a lot of technology in the stack to properly encrypt and/or anonymize what they collect. (And it's easy to opt-out of the limited data collection, too, with no impact on functionality.) Here's an article from a reporter who downloaded their Apple data so you can see what Apple keeps on you, and what it doesn't.
posted by SansPoint at 2:17 PM on June 6 [21 favorites]


I don't even mind ads, per se, I mind animated ads, video ads, interrupting ads. There was a time when blocking Flash made the web tolerable. There was a time when blocking most JavaScript made the web tolerable. It's only relatively recently that I've started using an ad blocker.

Is Google doing anything to encourage ads to be less annoying by choice? It seems like that would be a sounder long-term strategy.
posted by Western Infidels at 2:21 PM on June 6 [11 favorites]


I had a hard time making Firefox work well on my Android phone, but have had a really good experience using Bromite, which is a Chromium fork with built-in adblocking and privacy tools.
posted by straight at 2:25 PM on June 6


Is there anything I can do in Firefox to make it not look like I'm running Chrome in Incognito Mode? (On a Mac, if that's relevant, and I'm referring to the topmost part of each browser window being black instead of the native OS color.) They made this change a few months back, and it drives me batty.
posted by kimota at 2:43 PM on June 6


darkstar: ". Especially the part about the Facebook Container, preventing Facebook from following your non-Facebook activity, and from building shadow profiles if non-Facebook-users"

This, so many times.
posted by signal at 2:47 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't be surprised if blocking 70,000+ URL patterns is well outside of the original scope/intent of the SDKs currently used by ad-blockers

The API in question, webRequest, is very simple in concept. Every time the browser goes to make a request to a web server, it first notifies the extension that's interested in being notified of these things that it's about to happen. The extension can do whatever it likes with the info: Cancel the request, redirect it, dynamically detect that it looks like it's a tracking script based on statistics it's keeping, email copies of it to the NSA, compare it to a list of 70 million rules, whatever.

If all it wants to do is a simple lookup of the kind that can be done with the proposed replacement API, fine, it can just do that and there should be no perceptible performance difference. If it wants to do something complicated or nefarious, there might be some downsides. But in any case it is all the same as far as the design of the API goes. It was very much intentionally designed in a way that allowed unanticipated things like Privacy Badger to take advantage of its flexibility. It's simple and effective, and there's nothing wrong with it.
posted by sfenders at 3:07 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


I’m an IE6 man like my father and his father before him
posted by um at 3:13 PM on June 6 [39 favorites]


Dismayed to hear that it uses Safari underneath, though, does that mean Safari is still getting the data? If so, how secure is Firefox iOS if everything is passing through Safari?
It’s worth noting that the WebKit and Safari teams have been working to minimize the amount of user data that even can be tracked — a new WebKit proposal basically implements a way to do ad clicks that share no traceable information about the user, and the proposal is smartly designed with the assumption of no trust anywhere along the line.

Honestly, I feel like it’d sure be neat if one of those areas where Apple does a thing and then everyone copies it were “letting users have privacy at all” but that seems like it’s gonna be a proprietary thing for a while : \
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:16 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


As mentioned above, I don't mind ads...it's the jiggly animated ads next to something I'm trying to read that have always bothered me. This started WAY back in the day with those "dancing man" ads. I think those annoying things were what started the ad block add-ons in the first place....

I seem to be able to excise all of jiggly-animated ads these days with various blocking extensions. The one I cannot seem to block now are the sliding things that follow you down the page. I have autoplay turned off, but those sliding videos/ads that follow down the page (and often block what I'm trying to read again) are the new bane for a web reader.
posted by CrowGoat at 3:22 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


1 Consider installing Firefox.
2 Head over to privacytools.io for clear advice on what plugins to install and how to perform very straightforward "tweaks" to ensure a modicum of privacy and security.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 3:25 PM on June 6 [15 favorites]


The one I cannot seem to block now are the sliding things that follow you down the page. I have autoplay turned off, but those sliding videos/ads that follow down the page (and often block what I'm trying to read again) are the new bane for a web reader.

Behind the Overlay (FF).
posted by WCityMike at 3:25 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


I use three browsers:

Firefox for my daily use - I've been using Firefox through thick and thin, starting from the Mozilla offshoot of Netscape, and I have to say that the recent focus on performance has been very welcome. I do have it empty out all my cookies every time I quit, and not only do I use container tabs for Facebook, I also use container tabs for Google (including YouTube). That's annoying for when I need to log in with Google but that's rare enough that I'm OK.

Safari is my banking / financials browser - those logins and passwords don't touch my regular browsing.

Chrome - ah, Chrome is my cordoned off browser that is used *only* for in-class demos, like when I want to show students a solar eclipse recording on YouTube. I set it up that way so that it was guaranteed not to have any personal history, but given the recommendations YT throws up with no history to fall back on, I'm starting to re-think that decision. Maybe even that much Chrome usage is too much...
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:37 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


the sliding things that follow you down the page.

Sticky Ducky is worth a try.
posted by sfenders at 3:45 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Consider taking it out of the browser-makers' hands entirely.

I second the pi-hole recommendation. It makes sure that even my phone -- when at home on wifi -- isn't full of shit too..
posted by mikelieman at 3:50 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


uMatrix will also stop working.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:56 PM on June 6


If only FF would auto-fill my credit card properly. I use Chrome to do all my e-commerce. And I was having good luck with the "Open in Chrome" extension so I switch from any FF page to the identical Chrome page but it has been wonky lately so I ditched it.
posted by stevil at 4:10 PM on June 6


I looked into Pi-Hole, but I am also using a VPN on each of my devices (including a different VPN for my work computer), and the process to get them to play nicely isn't worth the time it would take me since my current ad-blocking setup works pretty darn well.

Besides, I already use Firefox on them all anyway and barely touch Chrome, so this is all moot for me and now I'm not sure why I'm bothering to make this comment at all.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:19 PM on June 6


I haven't given up Chrome yet because I haven't found a Firefox replacement for the amazing Tabs Outliner. Now what am I supposed to do?
posted by schroedinger at 4:21 PM on June 6


I haven't given up Chrome yet because I haven't found a Firefox replacement for the amazing Tabs Outliner. Now what am I supposed to do?

Tree Style Tab (also see CSS here)?
posted by WCityMike at 4:28 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


> Top Attack compares 11 internet browsers on speed, memory usage, security, modern standards, and features, or overall, and also listing whether the browser includes a number of specific features or not, including ad blocking.

That site is a very strange attempt at being helpful. It says Opera is faster and more standards-compliant than Chrome, despite them both being built on Chromium. Edge apparently doesn't exist. Netscape Navigator is inexplicably included. The site claims Safari is available on Windows and Android.

Versions and environment information for these browser tests are not provided, and methodologies are not described, so there's nothing here to convince me that the site owner did anything other than pull numbers out of their ass and make a nice HTML5 bar chart with them.
posted by ardgedee at 4:30 PM on June 6 [9 favorites]


Deliberately breaking ad-blocking to increase ad revenue is a deal-breaker for me. So long, Chrome.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:38 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Tree Style Tab (also see CSS here)?

I've tried it, and it's nowhere near as convenient, functional, or easy to use. :(
posted by schroedinger at 4:41 PM on June 6


TopAttack also uses the classic Firefox icon - Firefox changed its icon at the same time as they deployed Quantum, which is the chief reason they're back in the conversation.
posted by Merus at 5:54 PM on June 6


> Is there anything I can do in Firefox to make it not look like I'm running Chrome in Incognito Mode? (On a Mac, if that's relevant, and I'm referring to the topmost part of each browser window being black instead of the native OS color.)

Firefox has browser themes that you can install from the Mozilla Add-On gallery. My browser's title bar is instead displaying a nice blue-and-green photo of a river with some forest.
posted by Quackles at 6:19 PM on June 6


I've only used Chrome a few periods, but have always been back to Chrome, since Quantum refresh it's been much more impressive.

The downside, of course, is the lack of addons that I used to love, but have learned to live without (they were just small ease-of-use features (drag to open a new table, automatically link non-linked URLs (which I think... is that even standard now? or... I haven't paid much attention) and break the URL into crumbs to easily navigate paths in the URL.

But mostly as long as I have an adblocker and its fast (and the foundation that runs it stays (mostly) true to the core free web beliefs, I'm onboard and always will be). They've had flaws and flubs, as any long term organization would. They've had drama, but I still TRUST mozilla more than almost any other online entity (besides MeFi, of course ;))

Also - my original point to this was:
"Firefox for iOS still uses Safari as the underlying rendering engine. There's not much point in using it...."

While that seems true, at work Apple deigns to "protect" me from my workplace by refusing to use the login page for our public wifi (for us employees in the cafeteria), no matter how much I tried I couldn't get in. Then I read someone mentioned something about Focus and I don't remember when it hit, but I thought - hmm... Can I bypass the proxy at work, or whatever it is? And sure as shit - Focus lets me access the public wifi login page where Safari/Firefox in general don't. Once I'm on I can use FF just fine (and I prefer the UI of FF better to Safari, so it's still better to me, even if I can't block ads (fuck u apple), and even if I am forced to use webkit (I really am less concerned about the rendering engines, except I think its good to have competition - my friend, a webdev, thinks everyone should just move to blink, which I say hell no - one more reason to support FF besides the addon issue (and despite their trimmed down abilities)).

I do worry that they will follow Google, but for now, they're really the only thing worth going to in terms of impact, voice in the market and such. Opera had some potential (especially with the "Applicance" concept they were trying) but in the end, failed...

Sorry TL;DR?

FF FTW
posted by symbioid at 7:05 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I’m a Firefox user on Windows at home, Chrome at work, and Safari on my iDevices. What about plain old Chromium? Is it any better than Chrome, or just as bad?
posted by lhauser at 7:16 PM on June 6


This is such hubris. It wasn't that long ago that Google showed how easy it was to pry users away from IE and Firefox with a few superior features. They don't have the kind of technological lead over competing browsers that would justify this. They leave themselves open for fierce competition in the browser space.
posted by Edgewise at 7:21 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


(symbioid: depending on what the problem is, it might be fixable by visiting when you connect to the wireless network.)
posted by golwengaud at 8:08 PM on June 6


Is there anything I can do in Firefox to make it not look like I'm running Chrome in Incognito Mode? (On a Mac, if that's relevant, and I'm referring to the topmost part of each browser window being black instead of the native OS color.) They made this change a few months back, and it drives me batty.
You can right click the tab bar and go to "customize," and at the bottom you can click "themes" and switch to the light theme. The light theme is built in so you don't have to install anything else to use it.
posted by floomp at 9:35 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I use Waterfox.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:49 PM on June 6


Haven't read entire thread, so apologies if rehashing anything.

Running OSX on a Mac. Been using Firefox every day for at least 3 years with no major issues.

Never installed Chrome. But thinking about using it as a dedicated browser for Gmail and Youtube only, and switching all personal and sensitive email to ProtonMail or similar.

Problem with switching to a more privacy oriented email provider is that when you are communicating with somebody using a Gmail account Google are still reading your emails via your correspondent's Gmail account.

That would be at least 1/3 of the people I email with. So that is a tricky one. :-/

Stopped using Google search years ago and now use Startpage, SearX, or DDG.
posted by Pouteria at 10:38 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Another Pi-Hole user here. Just checked the thing and over the last 24 hours it has blocked almost 30% of all queries that went through it. Keep in mind that I've gone pretty insane with it with a blocklist of over 1 million domains and 16 regex style blocking entries above and beyond that. I really hate ads/trackers and blocking them fills me with vengeful joy.

It's worth mentioning that Pi-Hole blocks a lot of apps and things from phoning home, so it's not just advertisements and scripts in your browser. If you set it up right it blocks telemetry from the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc. baked into their operating systems. Not to mention sneaky traffic from other types of smart/Internet connected devices. Further, I've configured it the router so anything that connects to my network is protected, which my guests love. I get all kinds of comments about how people's phones are faster or comments asking why they never see ads when they are at my place.

Also, for what it is worth, I do run VPNs and have no problems with Pi-Hole negatively interacting with them.

So yeah. If you have the technical skills to setup a Pi-Hole you absolutely should give it a try.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 11:20 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Ok, I guess it's back to Opera for me. The 90s were a nice period of time anyway.
posted by Harald74 at 12:29 AM on June 7


Apple's Audacity
Sign In with Apple

It's important to note that the question of privacy goes far beyond Google and Facebook — it predates the Internet. Starting in the 1960s companies began collecting all of the personal information on individual consumers they could get; Lester Wunderman gave it the sanitized name of "direct marketing". Everything from reward programs to store loyalty discounts to credit cards were created and mined to better understand and market to those individual consumers.

The Internet plugged into this existing infrastructure: it was that much easier to track what users were interested in, particularly on the desktop, and there were far more places to put advertisements in front of them. Mobile actually tamped this down, for a bit: there was no longer one browser that accepted cookies from anyone and everyone, which made it harder to track. That, though, was a boon for Facebook in particular: its walled-garden both collected data and displayed advertisements all in one place.

Over time Facebook extended its data collection far beyond the Facebook app: both it and Google have a presence on most websites, and offering login services for apps not only relieves developers from having to manage identities but also give both companies a view into what their users are doing. The alternative is for users to use their email address to create accounts, but that is hardly better: your email address is to data collectors as your house address was fifty years ago — a unique identifier that connects you to the all-encompassing profiles that have been built without your knowledge.

This is the context for Sign In with Apple: developers can now let Apple handle identity instead of Facebook or Google. Furthermore, users creating accounts with Sign In with Apple have the option of using a unique email address per service, breaking that key link to their data profiles, wherever they are housed.

This was certainly an interesting announcement in its own right: identity management is one of the single most powerful tools in technology. Owning identity was and is a critical part of Microsoft's dominance in enterprise, and the same could be said of Facebook in particular in the consumer space. Apple making a similar push — or even simply weakening the position of others — is noteworthy.

Privacy and Power

Still, Sign In with Apple is a hard sell for most developers who have already aligned themselves with Facebook or Google or have rolled their own solution. And, given that developers want to make money, is it really worth adding on an identity manager that would likely interfere with that?

Then came the bombshell in Apple's Updates to the App Store Guidelines:
Sign In with Apple will be available for beta testing this summer. It will be required as an option for users in apps that support third-party sign-in when it is commercially available later this year.
Apple is going to leverage its monopoly position as app provider on the iPhone to force developers (who use 3rd party solutions) to use Sign In with Apple. Keep in mind, that also means building Sign In with Apple into related websites, and even Android apps, at least if you want users to be able to login anywhere other than their iPhones. It was quite the announcement, particularly on a day where it became clear that Apple was a potential target of U.S. antitrust investigators.

It is also the starkest example yet of how the push for privacy and the push for competition are, as I wrote a year ago, often at odds. Apple is without question proposing an identity solution that is better for privacy, and they are going to ensure that solution gets traction by leveraging their control of the App Store.
What is the revenue generation model for DuckDuckGo?
posted by kliuless at 12:34 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


I setup pi-hole here at home a couple months ago, and a week later uninstalled uBlock Origin from my browsers. Liked it so much that I now run a local Docker instance pi-hole on my work laptop to filter my DNS requests there, too.
posted by mrbill at 2:04 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


What is the revenue generation model for DuckDuckGo?

The answer: Keyword advertising and Affiliate programs (for those who don't want to fill out a questionnaire at Quora before seeing the answer).
posted by Umami Dearest at 2:24 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


> even if I can't block ads (fuck u apple)

You can install ad blockers in iOS. uBlock isn't available (bummer), but Adblock Plus (free) and Ghostery (freemium) are, as well as others.

You can also designate Firefox Focus as an ad blocker for Safari. In the Settings app, navigate Safari > General - Content Blockers and there will be a menu of available apps to individually toggle on and off.
posted by ardgedee at 2:26 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Glad I went back to the revamped FireFox a while back.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:34 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


> What about plain old Chromium? Is it any better than Chrome, or just as bad?
> I guess it's back to Opera for me.

Chromium and Opera will be affected.

TheRegister is blurring the distinction between Chromium and Chrome. In the past (and even to some extent these days) that didn't matter a whole lot, since Chromium was effectively a stripped down version of Chrome. These days it matters a whole lot since third party browsers like Edge and Opera are built on Chromium; when Google changes something in Chrome, it doesn't affect Edge and Opera, but if Google modifies Chromium, those changes trickle outward to all third party browsers eventually, including Edge and Opera.

Chromium is also used internally by many web and browser app developers as an implementation or testing platform, where the webRequest API is used to verify that things are loading and running as expected. So expect eventual wailing and gnashing of teeth by web developers for reasons more esoteric than is worth getting into here.

Anyway: These changes are being implemented in Chromium. They will eventually affect many browsers in addition to Chrome. What I'm uncertain about (since I'm not going to spend more time investigating this) is that, since Google intends Chrome to retain the features of webRequest in their premium applications, whether those features will be, so to speak, also unlockable by third-party browsers. Or will Google more-or-less be cutting and pasting the code carrying those features of webRequest to Chrome Enterprise, leaving all third-party browser bundlers suddenly face the added (and expensive!) burden of coding webRequest substitutes themselves.

This really is a power move on Google's part to leverage what amounts to a monopoly. It's worse than it sounds.
posted by ardgedee at 2:59 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


> What I'm uncertain about... is that, since Google intends Chrome to retain the features of webRequest in their premium applications, whether those features will be, so to speak, also unlockable by third-party browsers.

This seems possible since extensions have to declare which platform manifest they are built on. In this scenario, for at least a little while, future versions of Chromium would have support both manifest 2 (which has current version of webRequest) and manifest 3 (neutered version of webRequest), and each extension picks which one it wants to use; Chrome would simply not allow access (so to speak) to manifest 2 even though it's there, while Chrome Enterprise, Opera, etc. would allow it.
posted by ardgedee at 3:09 AM on June 7


Unless Google has suddenly started selling user hostile ads and I failed to notice, I'm not quite sure how the thought process that leads to the conclusion that Google is making the changes to the webRequest API for nefarious reasons works.

Google benefits when you see their ads. They don't benefit from ads featuring cars driving across your screen to pop music since they won't sell an advertiser that capability.
posted by wierdo at 4:53 AM on June 7


Third party blockers can block Google ads and, maybe more importantly, Google’s activity trackers, and most are configured to do so by default.* That’s what Google considers harmful.

*(Aside from the ones accepting payola, such as Adblock Plus and Ghostery.)
posted by ardgedee at 5:00 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


FWIW I have had better luck with 1Blocker X on iOS than I had with any other adblocker. Adding in Unobstruct to remove page overlays on demand has been quite helpful as well.

I first downloaded the proto-browser that would eventually become Firefox in 1998 or so, when it would still fit on a 1.44mb floppy. When it became mature enough I dumped the old Netscape suite for Firefox + Thunderbird, probably ca. 2002. It’s been my browser of choice ever since. On mobile I use Safari (and Mail) but on desktop it’s Firefox and Thunderbird all the time. The occasional site that doesn’t play nice gets Safari, with Chrome as a last ditch option only for those sites where I must turn off all blocking to even access. (Elsevier journals for example - can’t see any content past the abstract or use the page at all unless I disable Facebook Container, even though the add-on reports zero Facebook links on the page - wtf??)

For the past few years my locked-down work computer has forced me to deal with Outlook, which sucks but I’ve managed to learn to live with. It was IE only at first but the IT folks eventually deployed Chrome because our support site wouldn’t work in IE. Once they finally pushed Windows 10 (we’re talking maybe 2 months ago?) I began to use Edge for intranet sites because it worked better than IE even though they still have IE marked as the default.

The shit thing is, most of the useful features in IE, Edge, and Chrome are locked down by corporate policy. I can’t even enable pop-ups for sites that rely on pop-ups for normal functionality, even if that site is providing a service for us via contracted agreement. Tried running Chrome Portable Edition but it pulls permissions from the installed version and is thus useless. But Firefox Portable? It’s the reason I can do my job and remain sane.

Quantum made Firefox even better. The attitude that using the web necessitates living with invasive, computationally demanding ads is bullshit. Ads are a security threat, running unreviewed code without my permission. The fact that blocking ads also completely breaks some websites is disturbing. I don’t trust Google here and I hate the idea of a browser engine monoculture. Firefox will stay on my system as the default.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:51 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


> Apple is without question proposing an identity solution that is better for privacy, and they are going to ensure that solution gets traction by leveraging their control of the App Store.

In fact some argue that their demand for control undermines their claims to privacy.
posted by Poldo at 5:59 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


The current and future Microsoft browsers will based on Chromium according to their current roadmap.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:24 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


I should put Brave on my laptop too, hmm.

Political issues surrounding Brave aside, it's absolutely garbage on desktop (at least on Linux). It's very much a mobile-first company.

On the broad topic...I guess I'll be switching to Firefox at work, too. I've been back to Firefox for a few years at home, but have mostly stuck to Chrome at work since we use GApps (so, technically, this shouldn't impact us, but it's the principal of the thing).
posted by asnider at 10:02 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


> In fact some argue that their demand for control undermines their claims to privacy.

I started to write a long comment outlining the many, many ways in which I disagree with this anonymous security researcher, and how they seem to not understand the practical consequences of what they are advocating.

But it's a pointless task, so instead, here's Nick Heer with a couple of links: The Star of WWDC Was Privacy. Two major new announcements – environmental noise monitoring, and passive Bluetooth tracking – both built with privacy protection from the ground up.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:24 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Well, I guess I'll keep Chromium on my desktop for when I want Google Earth (though I use it on my tablet pretty often). This just reinforces my newfound love for Firefox, which I've been using for about six months now.

Chrome works best for our webapps at work, though there's been no word about doing an enterprise installation (that will likely take time for our cybersecurity and enterprise applications people to work through). I may try Firefox there, as well, just to see how it works.

I've never had an issue with Safari on my iDevices. I use Purify for blocking now, but it's interesting that Firefox Focus can be used for blocking. I may give it a try.
posted by lhauser at 10:42 AM on June 7


Apple is without question proposing an identity solution that is better for privacy

It may be better than Google's version in various ways, but calling "give all your identity data to Apple and trust them to keep it safe" a form of "privacy" is a bit of a stretch.
posted by sfenders at 12:32 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


> calling "give all your identity data to Apple and trust them to keep it safe" a form of "privacy" is a bit of a stretch.

Are you taking issue with the math behind zero-knowledge cryptographic authentication, or just its implementation by Apple?
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:45 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


The G will punish non-chrome browsers with loss and lack of features on the G Stuff you still need to use. Maps and Drive are good examples of this. And the floggings will however continue until painful enough that someone else can offer a less punitive aternative.
So keep to the cause. Enough already.
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:03 PM on June 7


Ooh, are they using zero-knowledge proofs? News to me, and searching the web doesn't seem to turn up anyone talking about it. In Apple's own marketing material it simply says they don't use it to track and profile users and their activity, not that they've designed it to be impossible for even Apple to do so. I had assumed that if it were otherwise, they'd be advertising that fact more prominently.
posted by sfenders at 1:16 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


I think the biggest thing I'd miss about moving from Chrome would be the ability to start a truly private browsing session, with no extensions or anything. This is very useful to me when it comes to "am I having this issue for real, or is an extension getting in my way?".
posted by XtinaS at 2:34 PM on June 7


Starting in Firefox version 67, you will be able to decide which extensions will run while you are in private browsing. Additionally, an extension will no longer automatically be able to work in private browsing; you must grant it permission, either when you install the extension or later, through the extension’s settings.
posted by Bangaioh at 2:46 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


...whaaaaaaaaat. Thank you, Bangaioh, you have saved a brain today!
posted by XtinaS at 2:50 PM on June 7


Third party blockers can block Google ads and, maybe more importantly, Google’s activity trackers, and most are configured to do so by default.* That’s what Google considers harmful.

You're right. However, the new API is quite sufficient to block Google's tracking and ads. Were that not the case, I wouldn't take exception with the assumption that Google is making this change for undisclosed reasons rather than the reasons they stated. Maybe there is a chain of logic that leads to that conclusion, but I have yet to see it. Please hope me?
posted by wierdo at 3:14 PM on June 7


The G will punish non-chrome browsers with loss and lack of features on the G Stuff you still need to use. Maps and Drive are good examples of this.

Or sometimes the opposite. Using Gmail in Chrome, there seems to be no way to directly open an attachment using a local program like LibreOffice rather than be forced to open it in Google Docs or go through the step of downloading, finding the file, and opening it. Firefox will open attachments with local programs just fine. So that's one case of Chrome giving you fewer features when interacting with Google's ecosystem.

(In addition to the feature of removing ads from YouTube etc,)
posted by straight at 3:48 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Whatever you all say about Brave, isn't it still a problem that they use Chromium under the hood - just like Opera and IE?

I think I'll make my way back to Firefox.
posted by ilun at 11:16 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Thanks for sharing this news. I'm typing this from my former Android phone that's now running LineageOS. I used to recommend Chromebooks to people. Now no more. I'm planning on donating my new Chromebook that I just bought 3 months ago. I'll be running a Linux laptop instead.
posted by mundo at 9:49 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Chrome pushes video really hard, presumably for advertisers and youtube ads. I hate having videos autoplay, and it seems ridiculous to stop them on chrome. It requires a bit of tending with ffox, but is manageable.

So many sites offer text, great, reading, I like that, and then autoplay loud, active videos. C'mon, stick to text. If I'm watching video, then video ads are reasonable, not on text. Google makes a crapton on ads, and they will deliver them whether we like it or not, in whatever format they choose.
posted by theora55 at 2:55 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


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