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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 PvtVoid (1252388) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:07PM (#42481983)
    They should advertise more on the internet.
    • 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.

      • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdotNO@SPAMnexusuk.org> on Saturday January 05, 2013 @07:10AM (#42486523) Homepage

        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.

  • The adblocking war just went nuclear!

    I wonder what the media/advertising uber-cartel's response will be? "No media for you!"? Lawsuits galore?

    I'm gonna pop some popcorn and pull up a comfy chair. This...could...be...AMAZING.

    • by Smallpond (221300)

      Ad-supported content sites can start blocking requests from free.fr pretty easily. Not sure how long this will last.

  • 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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      I dunno, I don't see this ending well. I assume a fair number of ad supported sites would block the ISP from accessing their sites, which, given such a block would also affect customers that are willing to see ads, would ultimately undermine the ISP as customers switch to other ISPs in droves.

      Not that I don't understand the motive, ads have gone from bad to OK to bad to OK and now back to bad again with the ridiculous number of autoplaying HTML5 videos. But this probably isn't the solution.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I imagine a lot of customers actually asked the ISPs to block all the stuff they are not paying for.

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

      I'm not so keen to have my ISP define the word "crap" for me, but since it's an opt in thing all it will do is cut out 5% of the advertisers audience who would do it via their own ad-blockers anyway, sending ads to that 5% is counter-productive. It's like delivering junk snail mail to a "no junk mail" box, you know the recipient will just get angry at you. Advertisers (as opposed to ad distributors) may actually benefit from those people excluding themselves from that particular medium, it will be the middl

  • A big win (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:11PM (#42482031)

    I would pay additional money for services like this, in the US. Maybe not for internet, since adblock does a fine job at preventing my consciousness from being polluted by bullshit. But for things like Hulu, or TV...

    My wife watches Hulu when she wants to see something that I haven't set up to be auto-pirated with sickbeard/sabnzb/couchpotato. It amazes me the crap people will allow into their brains. "You could save fifteen percent on car..." "FUCK OFF, I'm already a Geico customer, WHY DO I HAVE TO HEAR THIS SHIT?!"

    I won't pay for Cable TV but I probably would if I could get TV without advertising.

    Yeah, yeah, the industry is driven by advertising, blah blah, guess what, I don't give a shit, totally not my problem, if they want my money, they can start by providing a service that I want. TV with ads? Do not want. I'll keep giving my money to a premium usenet provider, thanks.

    • by NemosomeN (670035)
      I use Hulu and never see ads/annoying HEY YOU AREN'T WATCHING THE ADS screens. Maybe you're not trying hard enough. XBMC/Bluecop It's been a godsend, and I expect to appreciate it more now that nzbmatrix is gone.
  • If you are a water vendor and it begins to rain, you need a new business model.

  • 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.

    • To quote the master:
      "By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising...kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalization for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: 'There's gonna be a joke comin' up.' There's no fuckin' joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself...borrow a pistol fr

    • by bhagwad (1426855)

      Because a certain ad company *google* makes my life (and those of others) far...FAR...better.

  • Hope we get these with our porn filters in the UK

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:26PM (#42482261)

    Free is a major French ISP, also just breaking into the mobile phone market with rock-bottom prices. They've always been at the forefront of the price war, and without them we probably still wouldn't have $40 ADSL with unlimited phone, TV..., nor $27/month for mobile with unlimited data/voice/texts, and no restrictions on VOIP, tethering... full net neutrality in fact. So up to now, they've undoubtedly been Good Guys.

    They have a long-standing dispute with Google though, about who should pay for bigger tubes between their servers and YouTube, which is unusable at peak time for Free subscribers. Free have been advising their clients to use Dailymotion instead, and don't want to pay for extra bandwidth. Free users are very dissatisfied, and this is becoming a *major* issue.

    The ad-blocking move, which seems right now to target mainly Google, is probably mostly a bargaining chip to get Google to pay for better YouTube access for Free.

    • Free is a major French ISP,[...] and no restrictions on VOIP, tethering... full net neutrality in fact. [...] They have a long-standing dispute with Google though, about who should pay for bigger tubes between their servers and YouTube, which is unusable at peak time for Free subscribers. Free have been advising their clients to use Dailymotion instead, and don't want to pay for extra bandwidth. Free users are very dissatisfied, and this is becoming a *major* issue.

      The ad-blocking move, which seems right now to target mainly Google, is probably mostly a bargaining chip to get Google to pay for better YouTube access for Free.

      How is that net neutral?

    • by Weezul (52464)

      Very interesting gossip, thanks! It's worth observing that Free only blocks cross site adds, meaning self hosted ads still work. In particular google's ads on google searches should still work.

    • nor $27/month for mobile with unlimited data/voice/texts, and no restrictions on VOIP, tethering... full net neutrality in fact. So up to now, they've undoubtedly been Good Guys.

      As much as I agree they've been the good guys and drove the market price down, it's just plain wrong that you've been enjoying "full net neutrality". Free has been doing throttling of connections to Youtube, so much that sometimes, it was very difficult to watch (had to wait for buffering). Free here, is just doing business: probably they had not succeeded in having agreements with Google the way they wanted. It wouldn't be the first time they act this way with peers.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:28PM (#42482289) Homepage

    This probably cuts the ISP's network traffic in half.

    There will be screams from advertisers. Tough. Nobody is forcing you to run a web site supported by third-party ads. This doesn't affect web sites that sell their own products, from Amazon on down. It doesn't affect search much, although it may impact Google's AdSense business. Bing; not so much. Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, HP, etc. don't run third party ads on their own sites. Facebook runs their own ads on their own site.

    It might impact low-rent sites like Slashdot, bloggers who want to get paid for their blithering, and other minor annoyances. But the web can run just fine without third-party ads.

    Even advertisers may benefit. About 80% of third-party ad clicks come from a small number of users, under 20%, who will click on anything and buy almost nothing. Many SEO experts advise their Google advertisers to opt out of the "Google content network" and just run ads that appear with search results. Search ads appear when someone is looking for the item of interest and likely to buy. AdSense ads are just noise.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Sort of annoying that I have ATT, and they do their web mail through Yahoo. So without ad blocking I would essentially see advertisements sponsored by an ISP I'm paying for. Ok, so that's exactly like cable television where you pay and still get ads so maybe not so weird... I guess everyone's realized that they can just keep shoveling more crap at us and get away with it.

  • 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).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You can turn adblocking off. Versus a non-neutral net where you can't do a damn thing over how your ISP shapes your traffic. Big difference. Or would say Dish networks recent attempts to automatically remove ads is not neutral?

      Like to confuse the issue, huh? I swear some of you people are just astroturfers with a brain. Half a brain though.

    • Yes yes, slippery slope. You are of course ideologically correct. This is the free market solution, when really we need government solutions to the scourge of advertising which blights our societies.

      The road to hell is paved with good intentions as they say! But I am curious, where I am from, there are often spam calls to my telephone, offering all sorts of prizes if i give all my information to them. Should the telco not try and block these calls for the benefit of society? I am just trying to say that the

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Have I as a consumer ever told a third party web site that I want to see advertisements? No, I have not. These advertisements are piggybacking on my ISP and making me pay for it!

      Maybe there's an ideal towards network neutrality, but idealism is often tossed out when under duress. If the advertisers are not playing fair and taking advantage of us then I think it is safe to ignore net neutrality when it comes to advertisers.

      • by deimtee (762122)
        Not quite.
        You have told a website that you want to see it. It sends you the page.
        Part of that page is information that the website includes content from a third party.
        Your browser then goes and asks for the third party content.

        If you don't want to see that content, then your browser shouldn't ask for it.
        It is quite easy not to, you simply add noscript and adblock. Or apparently, if you are french you can have your ISP block it for you.
    • by rotide (1015173)
      I'm going to totally agree with you. It appears slashdotizens are totally fine with their ISP's filtering data as long as it's something they don't like. Amazing. I'd rather use Adblock or another method to filter out ads if I don't want to see them. I don't want my ISP filtering anything for me, thank you.
    • Site operators will block content if ads aren't served. Today, some sites will deliberately not function when ad blocking is detected, but this is not yet wide-spread. That policy is going to become ubiquitous if ISPs start blocking ads for all users.

      Right now the arms race between advertisers and ad blockers is low intensity because ad blocking is limited to a small fraction of content consumers. Now that ISPs are monkeying around with ad blocking the race will escalate. The advertisers are going to de

    • You're confusing net neutrality [wikipedia.org] with the end to end principle [wikipedia.org].

      What you're talking about is the end to end principle, where the blocking of ads should happen at the end point of the communication, ie the computer running the browser. That's a technical principle, which is useful to preserve the correctness of the communications, because it's too difficult to anticipate all consequences of a change in the network. However, that ship has sailed. The net is already full of boxes that modify TCP/IP content on

    • Free doesn't block ads served by the hosting site, only cross site ads. I believe many big newspapers host their own ads, right? Le Monde's ads are likely viewable for that reason.

      Any idea if Free is blocking the user tracking sites used by Le Monde? I'm counting 4-5 trackers on lemonde.fr, way less than the NYT's 12-15, but still some revenue.

    • by mrbene (1380531)
      Also, since Free.FR has a specific set of IP addresses to use, it'd be pretty easy for web site owners to block Free.FR access to their website, in the spirit of "Don't want my ads? Don't waste my bandwidth!"
  • by citylivin (1250770) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:37PM (#42482395)

    My town recently passed a law blocking people from defecating in peoples yards and spitting in their faces at random. One can opt out of the new law (and continue being spat at) completely, however there is no whitelist for white listing positive spitters and defecators that I do want to receive spit from. This means that its either an all or nothing choice, activated by default to block everything.

    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 cleaning up shit and spit to make money, let alone the spitters and defecators themselves who try hard to eat and drink as much as possible to reach an audience, and are now blocked at the door.

  • by boule75 (649166) on Friday January 04, 2013 @07:42PM (#42482491) Homepage
    ... for paid DVDs?

    I cannot help but feeling pissed of each time I buy one film and am forced to endure minutes of ads against pirating (But I even paid the bloody thing!) or for films I will not see or for violent films when the DVD contains a cartoon for the kids.

    And have you noticed all those films on the walls for things you do not want nor ear about? They have been flourishing in Paris lately. They catch your eyes, because your eyes will look at moving things, however hard you try to ignore them. The ad industry has become a sheer nuisance.

    Meanwhile, as a Free.fr subscriber, I am not so sure the move is smart, especially since it would be activated by default (one has to reboot the box to upgrade the firmware, and I do it twice a year or so, haven't done it yet).
    I do accept some dose of advertisement on sites, but no flash by default, Flashblock is my friend. That suffices me up to now. Manwhile, I would appreciate Porn blocking, by default. All ads? Perhaps too bold a move.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      I cannot help but feeling pissed of each time I buy one film and am forced to endure minutes of ads against pirating (But I even paid the bloody thing!) or for films I will not see or for violent films when the DVD contains a cartoon for the kids.

      The obvious solution is to rip the DVD and reburn it to a blank DL disc. DVDFabDecrypter even has a preset specifically to rip just the movie portion, removing all previews and piracy warnings. Replace the original clamshell case for the DVD with a two-disc one and stick your original on one side for safe-keeping (and to prove you actually paid for the content if the MPAA ever gets those gestapo search squads they've always wanted), and put the new disc on the other side. Play only the burned disc.

      Bonus: If

  • Too bad Comcast doesn't offer packages like that...

  • by 2Y9D57 (988210)
    Use a VPN. Don't let your ISP screw with your traffic.
  • Not that I support it, but it shouldn't be much problems to stop delivering to the IP range from this ISP for french newspapers. It's really a short-lived story for the customers of this ISP.

    • by mrbene (1380531)

      Yeah, my thoughts as well. "You don't want my ads? Don't waste my bandwidth!"

      Any significant escalation in the ads vs ad-blocking conflict ends up screwing over users in some way or another - reduced access to content, buggy scripts that must run to view the page, the likes.

  • I assume this is some sort of attack on Google given they're the biggest advertiser on the internet. Does anyone know more about the reasoning behind this? I can't believe it's just to help their customers.
  • Offtopic.. mod me to oblivion.. but has everyone else noticed all the new ads on slashdot since the buyout? In Opera, I even get a popup download warning from some push file ad something.. the load time has gotten spam-crazy-3rd party-riffic.. and yes.. I have all the requisite add-ons.. I just watch the status bar going nuts while the page loads..
  • Adverts are little attention-getters that push buttons to make you do things you don't want to do. It could be that they're causing us to do a number of other weird things too as a side effect - like get unreasonably violent and agressive. This is of particular suspicion in the US where foreigners meeting US advertisements for the first time get a big culture shock. Could this "Shock! Get yours now!" subliminal message be driving roberies, greed, rape and other undesirable behaviour, which let's face it is

  • Not getting rich on advertising by far, but if they're that determined on being overt and callus freeloaders so much as to prevent any chance of revenue that helps support my costs, I am not interested in having them visit my sites.

  • Probably not a lot of people thought about it, but blocking adds like this is saving free.fr a lot of bandwidth. I'm sure it's quite significant.

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