Chrome change could hobble ad blockers

first_img Comments 5 Share your voice Google Chrome dominates the browser market. Stephen Shankland/CNET A Google plan to improve the Chrome web browser has triggered an explosion of concern that it’ll also cripple extensions designed to block ads, improve privacy and protect against security problems.Google’s proposed approach would torpedo ad blocker uBlock Origin, tracker blocker Ghostery, privacy and password manager Privowny, JavaScript software blocker NoScript and a malware blocker from F-Secure, according to their developers.In a statement Wednesday, though, Google said it’s trying to improve Chrome while keeping all those extensions working.”We want to make sure all fundamental use cases are still possible with these changes and are working with extension developers to make sure their extensions continue to work while optimizing the extensions platform and better protecting our users,” the company said in a statement.The controversy shows the difficulties that arise from Chrome’s dominance 10 years after its debut. Google’s browser accounts for 62 percent of website usage today, according to analytics firm StatCounter. But if a Google change causes problems, then extension authors and website developers can be stuck with it unless they can get millions of people to change to a different browser like Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari.Chrome’s power also is amplified by the fact that other browsers, including Vivaldi, Opera, Brave and soon Microsoft Edge, use Chrome’s open-source foundation, called Chromium.Extensions let you customize web browser behavior to do things like take screenshots, manage tabs, disable websites’ potentially risky JavaScript software and even replace photos of President Donald Trump with images of kittens. But ad blockers are a top extension use. Indeed, it was one of the uses Google specifically called for when it first revealed its Chrome extensions plan in 2008. uBlock Origin has been installed more than 10 million times, for example, according to Chrome Web Store statistics.Ghostery developer Cliqz said Google’s proposed change is radical, and threatened legal action if it goes forward.”This would basically mean that Google is destroying ad blocking and privacy protection as we know it,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “Whether Google does this to protect their advertising business or simply to force its own rules on everyone else, it would be nothing less than another case of misuse of its market-dominating position. If this comes true, we will consider filing an antitrust complaint.”Chrome’s Manifest v3 destinyGoogle revealed the change way back in October as part of a broader plan to improve Chrome extensions. Some developers are only now noticing the part that could hurt ad blockers, called Manifest v3. Manifest v3 is designed to improve Chrome extensions’ performance, privacy and security. One part of that change, though, limits how extensions will be able to examine aspects of websites. The thorny limit affects how an extension can check if website elements originate from a list of hundreds of thousands of advertising sources. Google has proposed a limit of 30,000.One extension designed to protect people who click on malicious links, Blockade.io, “will cease to function” under Google’s Manifest v3 plan, said Brandon Dixon, who maintains the extension. “There is a 30K rule limit imposed, which is not enough to handle our ruleset (~250K),” Dixon said in a Wednesday mailing list post.Safari and Firefox have embraced variations of Chrome’s extensions technology, an approach that in principle makes life easier for extension authors trying to support multiple browsers. But Privowny’s Daniel Glazman lamented the fizzling of an effort to turn Google’s extensions technology into a web standard all browsers collectively develop and support.The browser extension technology is “fully in the hands of Google, [which] can and will change it anytime based on its own interests only,” Glazman said in a blog post Wednesday.Google probably will amend its extensions plan, though not its aspiration to improve performance and security, Chrome team member Devlin Cronin said in a mailing list response Wednesday.”This design is still in a draft state, and will likely change,” Cronin said. “Our goal is not to break extensions.”First published Jan. 23, 10:49 a.m. PT.Updates, 10:58 a.m.: Adds more Google comment; 11:29 a.m.: Includes further background; 4:11 p.m: Adds comment from Ghostery.’Hello, humans’: Google’s Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet.CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET’s newsstand edition. Tags Software Internet Security Microsoft Edge Advertising Brave browser Chrome Chrome OS Firefox Privacy Googlelast_img read more

Morocco bans burqa Reports

first_imgMap of MoroccoMorocco has banned the production and sale of burqa full-face Muslim veils, apparently for security reasons, media reports said Tuesday.While there was no official announcement by authorities in the North African nation, the reports said the interior ministry order would take effect this week.“We have taken the step of completely banning the import, manufacture and marketing of this garment in all the cities and towns of the kingdom,” the Le360 news site quoted a high-ranking interior ministry official as saying.It said the measure appeared to be motivated by security concerns, “since bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes.”Most women in Morocco, whose King Mohammed VI favours a moderate version of Islam, prefer the hijab headscarf that does not cover the face.The niqab, which leaves the area around the eyes uncovered, is also worn in Salafist circles and in more conservative regions in the north, from where thousands of jihadists have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq.In some commercial districts of Casablanca, the country’s economic capital, interior ministry officials on Monday conducted “awareness-raising campaigns with traders to inform them of this new decision,” the Media 24 website said.In Taroudant in southern Morocco, authorities ordered traders to stop making and selling burqas and to liquidate their stock within 48 hours, the reports said.Retailers in the northern town of Ouislane were said to have received similar instructions.It was unclear if Morocco plans to follow in the footsteps of some European countries such as France and Belgium where it is illegal to wear full veils in public.The reports were met with a muted response in the absence of official confirmation, though Salafists expressed concern that the measure could be expanded to include the niqab.“Is Morocco moving towards banning the niqab that Muslim women have worn for five centuries?” Salafist sheikh Hassan Kettani wrote on Facebook.“If true it would be a disaster,” he added.last_img read more

Trumps travel ban makes US citizens cancer treatment impossible

first_imgDonald Trump. File photoMaziar Hashemi, a naturalized US citizen who lives in Massachusetts, has been told by doctors that his best hope for surviving a rare form of blood cancer is a bone marrow transplant.President Donald Trump’s travel ban could make that impossible.Bone marrow transplants require a close match between donor and recipient. A few months after his diagnosis last September, Hashemi, 60, learned that his brother in Iran, Kamiar Hashemi, was a rare 100-per cent match. The only problem was Kamiar’s nationality.The latest travel ban, issued as a presidential proclamation and implemented on 8 December after months of legal wrangling, bars most travellers to the United States from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, as well as certain government officials from Venezuela. Although the ban allows for case-by-case waivers to be granted, including for medical need, Kamiar Hashemi has so far been denied a visa.Attorneys who regularly deal with visa issues say the waiver process is opaque. Visa applicants aren’t allowed to apply for waivers; they are simply granted or not without explanation. US officials won’t say how they make their decisions or how long they generally take.A US State Department official told Reuters that since the ban took effect, more than 375 waivers have been approved but he declined to say how many total visa applications have been filed from countries covered by the ban. He said he could not comment on the specifics of Hashemi’s case.Kamiar Hashemi began the visa application process soon after learning he was a match for his brother. In February, the 57-year-old small business owner travelled to Armenia to be interviewed at the US embassy there, since there is no embassy in Iran.Later on the day of the interview, Kamiar’s brother back in Massachusetts checked the status of the application on the State Department’s website. A pop-up window announced in bright blue letters: “Refused.”Waivers can later be granted to applicants initially refused for visas, according to the State Department, so Maziar Hashemi continued checking the website each day, but his brother’s status hasn’t changed. He hired an immigration lawyer, Mahsa Khanbabai, hoping she might smooth the way.Transparent as MudThe Trump administration has said travel restrictions are needed to protect the United States from terrorism.Critics have challenged the latest ban, as they did previous versions, saying that it discriminates against Muslims. Six of the eight countries included in the current ban are majority Muslim.Under the current proclamation, waivers can be granted in cases where denying entry would cause undue hardship, when the individual is found not to be a threat and when their entry is in the national interest.The proclamation lists ten examples of situations in which an applicant might be eligible for a waiver. One reason mentioned is an applicant’s need for urgent medical care, something that comes close but doesn’t exactly fit the Hashemis’ situation, since it isn’t Kamiar Hashemi, himself, in urgent need.The State Department has declined to provide details of how waiver decisions are made beyond some general answers to frequently asked questions posted on its website. But a State Department letter obtained by Reuters earlier this month said “there is no waiver form to be completed” and that applicants who fall into the categories outlined in the proclamation “must be considered” for one.“The process is as transparent as mud,” said Hashemi’s attorney Khanbabai. “There are no clear guidelines. It’s difficult to figure out what the process is and who is actually doing the processing.”Nevertheless, Khanbabai submitted a packet of information on the Hashemis’ behalf to the embassy on 19 March, including a letter from Massachusetts General Hospital explaining that a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant is very rare and could provide the only viable treatment for Maziar Hashemi’s Myelodysplastic syndrome.Worried about the ticking clock, Kamiar Hashemi looked into traveling to India to have his bone marrow harvested there and rushed to the United States, but that option was also thwarted.A non-profit organization trying to facilitate the transfer, Be The Match, said it had to pull out after its legal team concluded that Kamiar’s bone marrow couldn’t be exported to the United States because of US sanctions on Iranian exports.“Can you imagine that the cells of an Iranian needed in order to help a US citizen are embargoed?” said Maziar Hashemi, a civil engineer who has lived in the United States since the 1970s.“It is just unfair,” he said in a phone interview. “I cannot wait much longer.”last_img read more