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French ISP Blocking Web Ads By Default 317

Posted by Soulskill
from the hasn't-yet-surrendered-to-pressure-from-ad-suppliers dept.
New submitter GavrocheLeGnou writes "The french ISP 'Free.fr' is now blocking ads from Adsense and other providers by default for all its subscribers. The option can be turned off globally, but there's no whitelist (Google translation of French original). From the article: 'Because the service doesn’t offer a whitelist (contrary to Adblock, a service I’ve used for years), this means that it is an all or nothing choice, activated by default to block everything. And since it is not only internet, but TV and phone lines running through the FreeBox, it’s possible that, if left unchecked, Free could beginning blocking TV ads, or phone calls from known spam hotlines. While this seems like a potentially beneficial service, there’s no doubt that it’s biting at the heels of several sectors who rely on advertisement to make money, let alone the advertisers themselves who pay to reach an audience, and are blocked at the door.'"
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French ISP Blocking Web Ads By Default

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  • by tchernik (2494258) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:10PM (#42482023)
    The ISP gets its money by selling Internet access to his paying customers, not by allowing all the ad crap to sneak through.

    Blocking the crap is just value added to their clients service IMHO.

    I certainly wish there was such a convenient ISP service near home.
  • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Synerg1y (2169962) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:13PM (#42482079)
    The internet would still be a bunch of news groups if it wasn't for advertising: advertising spurred people to create and advance content and it's the #2 on how people make money off the internet... #1? Porn... which has tons more ads for more porn.

    The problem isn't advertising, it's how some websites go about it in a less than straight forward manner and not so much anymore, but some used to be really annoying, like the recursive jscript ad pop-up.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:16PM (#42482139)

    I fail to see the downside.

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:27PM (#42482271)

    easy: all sites that live thanks to advertising, even to good ones that provide valuable content and have not-too-obnoxious ads (arstechnica comes to mind), no longer make any money at all.

  • Re:Good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:29PM (#42482295)

    Say goodbye to google, youtube, Twitter, Slashdot, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Gmail, Yahoo mail, drudge report, yahoo, bing, and probably a lot of others.

    Im going to guess that sites in that list make up more than 50% of your web-usage by site-hit per day, and including youtube probably 80% of your web traffic.

    But sure, they all have "bad business models", despite being some of the biggest sites on the internet.

  • by pavon (30274) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:32PM (#42482333)

    While all the posts here so far are in favor of this move, it is a very bad thing, and not just for the publishers that depend on ad revenue. If my browser has requested data from the internet, by default the ISP's job is to faithfully forward those requests and the responses to me, not to selectively block, modify, or even inspect the packets I have sent. To do otherwise is a violation of network neutrality.

    This is bad because it can be abused by the ISP to serve their goals, and not that of the user. For example, in this case the founder of Free, Xavier Niel, is also a partial owner of the newspaper Le Monde, and by some reports ads are not being blocked on that site, while they are on others. Other accounts give different results with ad blocking, so that may not be intentional, but regardless it is a good hypothetical example of why this can be a very bad idea. It is one thing if the ISP offers additional services that the user can opt-in to use, but very different if they require users to opt-out (many of whom may not even know/understand that the ISP is modifying their traffic).

  • Re:Good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Terrasque (796014) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:41PM (#42482467) Homepage Journal

    While they don't have ads, they often have huge "Give us money!!" banners, which are just as annoying, if not more annoying than normal ads.

  • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:47PM (#42482565)

    Weird. When I search on Google the first three million results are usually ad farms that have no bearing on what I was searching for, and then about ten million results in I find someone's personal web page with the information I actually wanted.

    When did Google 'get so much better at searching'? Everything they've done in the last few years seems to have been designed to give me more and more unrelated results ('I'm going to give you results for what you searched for and for any word I think is vaguely similar, because you obviously don't know what you really wanted to search for'), and not the ones I actually want.

  • Re:Good. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:47PM (#42482569)

    I kinda miss the usenet. Those were the good old days. At least until the spammers arrived. And Scientology sporge in 2000.

    An all-free no advertising internet might be a good thing. Kinda like a world with only FOSS computers, no Apple or Windows. Sure, the general public would miss their Twitter and Facebook but computer geeks would rejoice.

    Assuming there was anyone around to keep running the servers for free, of course.

    I'm pretty damn certain there's a not-insignificant amount of computer geeks who depend an awful lot on services which today are nearly entirely ad-supported, geeks who would be shocked — SHOCKED, mind you — at the prospect of having to pay for those services on a "supposedly all-free internet". And these are the sorts of services which are a bit too big for the platonic ideal from decades ago of "one nerd hacking away in his basement" to support.

  • Re:Good. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by greenfruitsalad (2008354) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:02PM (#42482849)

    that was a real WTF comment. how is a polite plea showing up once in a blue moon more annoying than autoplaying videos, flashing banners and "you can skip this ad in 5 4 3 2 1" welcome pages?

  • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:16PM (#42483025) Journal

    Finding worthwhile information on the web was much, much easier before the rise of advertising.

    I'm old enough that my son ran his own BBS in the late 80's, had access (via a university) to the internet before it was the internet, was studying for a CS degree when HTML was invented (didn't "get it" immediately, few people did). It's far from an exaggeration to say information has never been easier to find in the entire history of mankind, nor has there ever been so much information of both types, useful and useless. For people like me who used to loan from the non-fiction section of the library, the internet is like having the world's technical and scientific libraries at your fingertips. Sure it's not the jet pack I was promised, but it's a pretty good consolation prize.

  • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:18PM (#42483059)

    Advertising should just be a side business, it's the overhead necessary to sell an actual product which is the core business. However it seems that too many advertisers want to treat it like the primary business. People talk about the advertising industry like it's a major manufacturing conglomerate.

    The problem with ads on the net is that they don't behave. Advertising may be necessary for a product but they've gone out of their way to be obnoxious and rude. Animated picures and flash ads suck up noticeable amounts of processing time, the initial reason I went about blocking ads. They've abused windows pop ups. It bloats up the internet content without paying its way. Back with faxes ads used to tie up the lines and block actual information from arriving in a timely manner. Advertisers have essentially done everyone in the power to become hated. So of course customers want ad blocking in self defense. Sorry to all of you who make your living with advertising but war is hell and you're working for the enemy.

  • Re:Good. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:22PM (#42483107)

    Most free content is shit. It's usually regurgitated, misleading, or false. Anybody who is willing to provide free information at a minor profit will be fine. You want good free content? It's all out there. Example Pubmed. The journals are all heading toward making papers free. Scientific American requires a subscription. The Economist requires a subscription. The New York Times. Getting the point? Anything worthwhile already requires a subscription and that which doesn't is going to be free anyway.

    Only videos should have video ads. Text should have static ads.

    If you need to survive by spamming me with ads, your content is most likely shitty. I've never found a site that had annoying ads which was worth my time.

  • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:24PM (#42483143)

    Newsgroups in the early days were funded by institutions, not all of which were taxpayer funded. Corporations used the newsgroups too. Members essentially paid their own way.

    Explain then why on pay cable television we're still subjected to ads? Every time there is an advertisement free medium the vultures swoop in to ruin it. If advertising is so great then why do the advertisers continually resort to dirty tricks? People are using ad blockers out of self defense against an active assault. Have a few small unobnoxious ads and people wouldn't mind. But fill up 2/3rds or more of a web page with junk ads that slows down your computer and internet then of course people are going to fight back.

    What we have today is a bad thing. There is not the information future that was envisioned, instead if's lots of media being fed to a passive drooling audience.

  • Re:Good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:26PM (#42483165)

    And advertisement is essentially what killed off usenet. Even though it's still limping along inside Google there is no longer any information left. Because it's essentially free to churn out as many ads as wanted it was too easy to drown actual content.

  • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:36PM (#42483309)

    We're still paying today, sometimes a significant amount of money just to get internet connections. We're actually paying much more money today than we did 10 or 20 years ago. The advertisers are not paying for their ads out of their own pockets, they've figured out that other people will pay for the bandwidth necessary to send the ads out.

    We get spam clogging our email, we have popups annoying us, we have our computers and networks being slowed down. I have to pay money when they send me a text message to my phone, I don't even answer my home phone anymore even though it rings 4 or 5 times a day since it's all telemarketers despite being on the no-call list. These people are evil and we shouldn't be making excuses for them.

    If the advertisers are leeching off of all of us then I have no qualms putting up ad blockers and leeching off of them.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:39PM (#42483341)

    Most companies should make money from products, not the ads. Find another way to get knowledge of your products out without being obnoxious to your potential customers. If a company associates with such depraved people as internet advertisers then the company deserves to lose its customers.

  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:46PM (#42484023) Journal

    They just did!

    Remember good French Slashdot readers, it is the French ISP Free.fr that is doing this! What Free.fr is doing might be controversial! But never ever forget that Free.fr is innovating in the internet marketing space!

  • by Esteanil (710082) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:40PM (#42484773) Homepage Journal

    Ad networks should be considered hostile and blocked at all opportunitie. Why?

    Take *one* look at any download service and the massive amounts of fake "Download" buttons you can press. Adware. Spyware. Malware. It's all there, unless you have the technical wherewithal to separate the good from the bad... Something most people don't.

    So for the average user the choice comes down to this: Adblock or infection.

    Clearly, the only responsible choice is to block ads.

  • Re:Good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by green1 (322787) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @01:19AM (#42485335)

    I would actually lose track of plot lines because of 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there. The show comes back on, and I have to think for a moment: who are these people? What was I watching? What was this week's episode about?

    Of course I've found that many shows are geared around that, so when watching without ads you notice a lot of repeated information that could be removed to make the show even shorter without missing anything. Reality type shows are especially bad about that, the total "show" is often only half or so of the total air time after you factor in ad breaks and re-caps due to them.

  • by Pentium100 (1240090) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @05:26AM (#42486203)

    How is blocking ads net neutrality?

    Because it's under user control. Or do you believe that net neutrality is only achieved if the ISP refuses to block anything, even at he request of the user? No spam blockers, no virus attack blockers, no DDoS prevention for your server, nothing.

    ISP should offer two services:
    1. Dumb data pipe.
    2. Optional (entirely under user control) firewalling or content filtering of the data that is in tat pipe.

    Not everyone can figure out how to block access to porn (or at least in such a way that their kids would not be able to circumvent it easily) or filter spam or properly configure a firewall. The ISP should offer a service of firewall, blocking, QoS* etc, but also provide a way for user to say "No, just give me the packets without tampering with them"

    When I had DSL, I would have liked very much if I could assign lower priority on my torrents so that they do not clog my connection. I could do prioritize packets while uploading them, but I could not do anything about downloaded packets (since if the packet is in my router it already passed the bottleneck). It would have been nice if I could tell my ISP to prioritize games and HTTP over torrents.

    When the ISP does this over the entire network (prioritizing someone elses HTTP over my torrents) it's annoying, but I would have liked to have a way of prioritizing my own HTTP over my own torrents.

  • Ad networks should be considered hostile and blocked at all opportunitie. Why?

    Take *one* look at any download service and the massive amounts of fake "Download" buttons you can press. Adware. Spyware. Malware. It's all there, unless you have the technical wherewithal to separate the good from the bad... Something most people don't.

    So for the average user the choice comes down to this: Adblock or infection.

    Clearly, the only responsible choice is to block ads.

    I'm all for blocking the "bad" ads like you mention, but the likes of Adsense tend to be pretty harmless and out of the way (occasionally even useful), so blocking *all* ads seems counterproductive. Far better to draw up some industry guidelines for what constitutes a good ad and block things that fall outside those guidelines.

    OTOH, Google's ads on Youtube have definitely crossed the line, and blocking those would be a good thing.

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