About "AdBlock Icon" permissions in the Safari Mac app

Note: If your browser keeps showing you the "new permissions" alert, uninstalling and reinstalling AdBlock should fix it.


When you install AdBlock for the first time, your browser may show you a notification like this: "AdBlock can read, modify, and transmit content from all web pages. This could include sensitive information like passwords, phone numbers, and credit cards."


Ad blockers work by:


 1) blocking a web page's requests to download ads from the servers that host them, and 

 2) hiding any ads that can't be blocked


To do that, the app needs to:

  1. See every page you open so that AdBlock can work on every page you visit. This also means that AdBlock knows the URL of every page you visit.
  2. See all the data on the page to find any unblocked ads among the other content. This also means that AdBlock can see any forms you submit and your browsing history on that tab.
  3. Change the data on the page by adding some HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code to the page to hide unblocked ads.


Why do you need the "Webpage Contents" permission?

Granting "Webpage Contents" permission allows AdBlock to inject JavaScript into web pages you visit. In plain language, that means we can add to or change the underlying code that makes up a web page.


All versions of AdBlock (like all ad blockers in general) try to hide ads they can't prevent from being downloaded. To hide an ad, we tweak the web page code that displays it. In other words, we change the page so that it doesn't include downloaded ads.


Most versions of AdBlock also tweak the page code to display our whitelist wizard on request. In other words, we change the page to include an element that wasn't originally present. The wizard allows users to interact with AdBlock to fine-tune the exception rule it creates. We added a whitelist wizard to our Mac app in the version 1.15.0 release. The part of the Mac app that displays the wizard is the AdBlock Icon extension, which opens the AdBlock menu in Safari. And that is why AdBlock Icon now needs "Webpage Contents" permission.


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