Brave, Opera And Vivaldi Rewrite Algorithm To Defy Chromium's Anti-Ad-Blocker Changes

With Chrome owning most of the web browser market, Google can still control how other browsers of different brands operate because many of them use its Chromium technology.

Chromium here refers to Google's web browser project. It boasts a minimalist user interface that aims to be lightweight and fast.

As an open-source project, Chromium powers browsers like Chrome, Opera, Samsung Browser, Amazon Silk and many more.

Google has revealed 'Manifest V3'. a suite of proposed Chromium browser changes that would help speed up browsing by blocking an API called webRequest.

But as a drawback, this would also have the effect of making most third-party ad-blockers unusable.

What's good for Google's ad business may not be good for everyone else. And Brave, Opera and Vivaldi are among them.

The three browsers are also using Chromium at their core, but here, they have declared that they would stick with webRequest in defiance of Google

The browsers are known to defy Google by creating their own ad- and tracker-blocking technology, and/or support extensions with ad-blocking capabilities. Despite a change in Chromium codebase, Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi which share the same core don't have plans on crippling their ad-blocking functionality in their products.

To do this, the three browsers took inspiration from popular ad blockers Ghostery and uBlock Origin, and rebuilt their algorithms using Mozilla's Rust programming language instead of C++.

As for Brave, the company behind it said that the rebuilt algorithms can boost speeds by up to 69 times. That in turn reduced request classification times down to 5.6 microseconds.

"Although most users are unlikely to notice much of a difference in cutting the ad-blocker overheads, the 69x reduction in overheads means the device CPU has so much more time to perform other functions," Brave said.

In other words, the rebuilt algorithm should make Brave's ad-free browsing experience a lot faster and more lightweight.

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"To respond on the declarativeWebRequest change (restricting webRequest in full behind an enterprise policy screen), we will continue to support webRequest for all extensions in Brave," said Brendan Eich.

"We might also consider keeping the referenced APIs working, even if Chrome doesn't, but again, this is not really an issue for the more than 300 million people who have chosen Opera," explained an Opera spokesperson.

"All the Opera browsers, both on mobile and PC, come with an ad blocker that users can choose to enable. This means that Opera users aren't really exposed to these changes - unlike users of most other browsers."

"How we tackle the API change depends on how Google implements the restriction," said Petter Nilsen, Senior Developer at Vivaldi. "The good news is that whatever restrictions Google adds, at the end we can remove them. Our mission will always be to ensure that you have the choice."

When Google first announced its plans to modify the Chromium extension system, collectively using Manifest V3 in October 2018, it took browser companies and extension developers a few months to understand how intrusive this Manifest V3 modifications were.

Eventually, they realize that Google was planning to replace one of the main technology through which extensions interacted with website requests, in favor of one that was inferior.

With users protesting against Google's decision, the company came under heavy criticisms from the public. Many were accusing Google of trying to sabotage ad-blocking extensions that were hurting Google's advertising profit.

Google backtracked on the change a month later. But it appears that its promise to keep the old extension technology intact was just a lie. In May, Google said that the old technology that ad blockers were relying on, would only be available for Chrome enterprise users, but not for regular users.

The result was inevitable, as many users vowed to switch browsers, with many setting their eyes on Firefox, whose developers have been revamping the brand to become a privacy-first product.

Brave, Opera and Vivaldi took this opportunity to also eat away Google Chrome's market share, by defying Google's monopoly.