On the last day of the merry month of May, iTWire reported that Chrome would remove most of its ad-blocking ability for all but business users, something which Google did not deny at the time.
But it turns out that it is all being done for the benefit of users. Certainly not to ensure that more ads creep through so that Google can make a little more moolah. Perish the thought! After all, a company that made US$4.7 billion in 2018 by monetising other people's content and not investing a cent does have to glance at its bank balance in concern occasionally. The only person who would be concerned would be Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame as he would be wondering how to rewrite his blockbuster song Money for nothing to include what Google achieved.
Whenever Google posts something on its blog, there is plenty of scope for a giggle. Or more, if it comes from the chief executive Pichai Sundararajan, westernised name Sundar Pichai, as I pointed out here. The chances of this are improved greatly when the blog post has an Orwellian title like "Improving Security and Privacy for Extensions Users."
If it were an announcement made in any country with the press corps present, there would be all those ignorant questions to deal with from uneducated reporters. No, Google wants to give people just the facts – or, rather, its version of those facts. Something like what the White House's Kellyanne Conway once proposed – alternative facts (see video below).
GOOGLE MOTTOS: A HISTORY— MGK Hockey 1234 (@mightygodking) 28 March 2018
1999: Don't Be Evil
2003: Try Your Hardest To Not Be Evil
2008: Make A Reasonable Effort To Avoid Being Evil
2013: What Is Evil, Really, When You Get Down To It, I Mean Really
2018: *just a series of high-pitched giggles*
So Cronin tells us that the changes are being made to improve the security, privacy and performance of extensions for the Chrome browser. Sorry, I can't give you names of extensions, or a screenshot because I stopped using Chrome a long time ago. People like me are beyond redemption – we just don't know what's good for us. Hell, I even gave up on Gmail. An apostate, indeed.
But back to Cronin. "These changes include increased user options to control extension permissions, changes to the review process and readability requirements, and requiring two-step verification for developers," he writes.
In the past, you just installed an extension and it did its job. But now Google wants to change the nature of its job. Not, you must understand, to benefit Google in any way. Oh no, how could that thought even creep into one's head?
The last time this topic came up, the following quote from Google's Simeon Vincent was used: "Chrome is deprecating the blocking capabilities of the webRequest API in Manifest V3, not the entire webRequest API (though blocking will still be available to enterprise deployments)."
Perhaps Vincent gave too much away by that statement. Hence the induction of Cronin, who tells us, presumably in tones that North Korean news anchors would envy: "In addition, we’ve helped curb abuse through restricting inline installation on websites, preventing the use of deceptive installation practices, and limiting the data collected by extensions.
"We’ve also made changes to the teams themselves — over the last year, we’ve increased the size of the engineering teams that work on extension abuse by over 300% and the number of reviewers by over 400%." Percentages have no meaning unless one knows the base numbers – but perish that thought too. How could anyone doubt Google's sincerity?
I would love to detail more from this statement, which was presumably okayed by Google's glorious leaders, but somehow I'm feeling the need to throw up and have to break it off here.
But the announcement in its entirety is all here, so please read it. And remember, any hint of malice in this announcement is all due to your own, third-rate blinkered vision.