Edge (Chromium) team non-committal on webRequest API adblock issue

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The Microsoft Edge development team is having an AMA on Reddit, and the question on everyone’s mind was what Microsoft was doing about Google’s Chromium team deprecating the functionality of the webRequest API, an essential part of many adblocking applications.

Google has said they need to remove this API as it gives adblock and other extensions too much access to user’s private data, and that they will provide alternate methods.

Other companies such as Vivaldi however committed to restoring the API in the version of the Chromium web engine they ship.

When facing the question Microsoft did not, however, provide a clear direction, saying:

At Build, we started to talk about some specific commitments around user privacy and the quality of the browsing experience, as well as our goal to be customer-focused in terms of how we build the platform and when we intervene on the user’s behalf. One specific example is the tracking protection features we announced at Build; we also hear from many customers that access to robust content blocking solutions is super important to their browsing experiences.

In the specific case of the extension Manifest V3 changes being discussed in the Chromium community, we are in ongoing discussions with a number of popular extension developers and with the Chromium community to understand both the technical merits and the impact to developers and customers of the proposed changes. We’ll share more details about how we will proceed in Microsoft Edge once we work through those discussions and feedback from developers and the community.

The answer disappointed may Reddit users, with one noting ‘… so basically “no comment”‘ and another saying ‘That’s a sh*tty non-answer.’ Others noted that Microsoft had its own ad network related to the Bing search engine, and had the same interests as Google.

It appears a pity that Microsoft was not ready to give a clear answer on this very topical question. Hopefully, the company will save their next opportunity to speak directly to users till when they actually have something to say.