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French ISP Free Blocks All Ads to Piss Off Google
Consumer Group Concern Results in Government Wrist Slap
by Karl Bode 09:05AM Tuesday Jan 08 2013
Already under investigation for slowing down YouTube streams, French ISP Free is also now taking heat for blocking -- advertisements? Free recently announced that the ISP would start blocking advertisements for subscribers, requiring that users opt in if they want to view ad content. The blocking actually takes place courtesy of a firmware update to the company's DSL modems.

While Free has been rather disruptive to French incumbent ISPs, they've also been somewhat of a brat on the network neutrality front, joining a chorus of European telcos who believe that companies like Google should pay for their network infrastructure upgrades. The shuttering of ads appears to be less about helping consumers and more about kicking Google in the digital crotch.

Click for full size
Consumer advocates like John Bergmayer at Public Knowledge argue that it's a slippery slope, and that even while consumers don't like ads, an ISP injecting itself into the content stream is just a bad idea:
quote:
ISPs should be wary of getting in the content-blocking business. As journalist Guillaume Champeau pointed out on Twitter, once you start blocking one kind of content (ads), people are going to start to ask you to block The Pirate Bay. Or hate speech. Or blasphemy. Or maybe content that "supports terrorism"....

Given both Free's anti-net neutrality policy stance, and its history as a maverick player, its decision to start blocking ads (such as those from Internet heavyweight Google) becomes a bit less surprising. But blocking ads is still blocking content and it's not something ISPs have any right to do. Not only does Free set a dangerous precedent, it makes a choice that should be within the user's control.
What's Free's logic here? Company engineers really could just be misguidedly trying to do a good thing for users, not understanding that ISPs don't belong in the middle of the information superhighway. However, given the ISP's previous attacks on network neutrality it's more likely that Free is trying to exert pressure on ad companies, hoping they'd be willing to help fund Free network infrastructure in exchange for being whitelisted.

Whatever Free's reasoning, their actions resulted in the French government stepping in today to demand that Free stop blocking ads. "This kind of blocking is inconsistent with a free and open Internet, to which I am very attached," said Fleur Pellerin, France's minister for the digital economy,

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topics flat nest 

Frenchie

@rr.com

Lowers bandwidth usage!

Sounds like the French have the right idea!

r81984
Fair and Balanced
Premium
join:2001-11-14
Katy, TX
Reviews:
·row44

Re: Lowers bandwidth usage!

Net neutrality works both ways.
They need to leave it up the end user to turn this on.
If the end users do the turning on of the blocking then there would be no problem.

An ISP has no right to block anything except things that are known to be viruses or bot nets.
The end user can block whatever they want to.
--
...brought to you by Carl's Jr.
Chubbysumo

join:2009-12-01
Superior, WI
Reviews:
·Charter

Re: Lowers bandwidth usage!

said by r81984:

An ISP has no right to block anything except things that are known to be viruses or bot nets.
The end user can block whatever they want to.

Ads, even served from google, have been known to contain malicious content, not to mention that it lowers their overall bandwidth usage of the customer. Look at it this way. With a site like facebook loading with all the ads in tact, its getting to be over 4MB. With ads blocked, its around 1MB. 3MB of ads to a 1MB page is stupidly much, and its no surprise they are blocking ads, probably to cut down on data usage.

r81984
Fair and Balanced
Premium
join:2001-11-14
Katy, TX
Reviews:
·row44

Re: Lowers bandwidth usage!

said by Chubbysumo:

said by r81984:

An ISP has no right to block anything except things that are known to be viruses or bot nets.
The end user can block whatever they want to.

Ads, even served from google, have been known to contain malicious content, not to mention that it lowers their overall bandwidth usage of the customer. Look at it this way. With a site like facebook loading with all the ads in tact, its getting to be over 4MB. With ads blocked, its around 1MB. 3MB of ads to a 1MB page is stupidly much, and its no surprise they are blocking ads, probably to cut down on data usage.

Adware BS while "malicious" in some ways is fine. Its your browser that allows those ads to work like they do.
The ISP should not be blocking (besides known viruses/botnets) anything unless it is initiated by the end user.
ISPs need to be neutral.

There is nothing wrong with the ISP making a feature that the end user can turn on to block ads.
The ISP should not be blocking by default.
--
...brought to you by Carl's Jr.
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC
Reviews:
·Comcast
Agreed. By exerting so much control over the router, it's really their side of the network and not the customers. What they should do to stay "clean" is ship new routers with this configuration, but not reach in and change existing systems. They'll still have a large number of people who don't change router settings.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness
said by Frenchie :

Sounds like the French have the right idea!

Hope you enjoy having to pay subscription to every site you go to in the future. No one is putting a website on the internet for the hell of it. They do it to make money. Even THIS site. You can either allow ads and get free access or pay a subscription.
Chubbysumo

join:2009-12-01
Superior, WI
Reviews:
·Charter

Re: Lowers bandwidth usage!

said by 88615298:

said by Frenchie :

Sounds like the French have the right idea!

Hope you enjoy having to pay subscription to every site you go to in the future. No one is putting a website on the internet for the hell of it. They do it to make money. Even THIS site. You can either allow ads and get free access or pay a subscription.

Or you could make a better site that people want to be a part of, and would be happy to support. I am part of several ad free torrent sites that get support by user donations. if you don't make a shitty site, people want to use it. The other half is that on site ads are getting just as obnoxious as the popups of the late 90s and early 2000s, and look what we did with those popups.

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by 88615298:

Hope you enjoy having to pay subscription to every site you go to in the future. No one is putting a website on the internet for the hell of it. They do it to make money. Even THIS site. You can either allow ads and get free access or pay a subscription.

Or use Adblock and never see the ads. I didn't even know Facebook had ads until I accidentally left adblock off and visited the site. I wondered WTF happened.

dnoyeB
Ferrous Phallus

join:2000-10-09
Southfield, MI
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast
It doesn't really lower bandwidth usage unless Google stops sending the ads. As it is, the ad has to be read before it can be blocked. Might lower in-network bandwidth but that doesn't cost the ISP much if anything.
--
dnoyeB
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom [is] despised, and his words are not heard. " Ecclesiastes 9:16

sivran
Opera ex-pat
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Re: Lowers bandwidth usage!

Actually, the ad doesn't get transmitted, because the browser never requests it.
Gami00

join:2010-03-11
Mississauga, ON
said by Frenchie :

Lowers bandwidth usage!

No it does not. if you read the article, the blocking happens on the Modem itself with a custom firmware.. This means all the AD data is still sent to your modem to digest, then block. So you get all the bandwidth usage of those blocked ADs since it was still sent through the interwebs, to your ISP's network, then to your modem.

it saves you nothing.

sivran
Opera ex-pat
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Re: Lowers bandwidth usage!

No, the ad never gets requested, and thus never gets downloaded.

antdude
A Ninja Ant
Premium,VIP
join:2001-03-25
United State
kudos:4
Don't give up like in the past.

Metatron2008
Premium
join:2008-09-02
united state

Just block Googles services to free.

Leave up a message whenever people try to access things like youtube or gmail for a a awhile explaining the situation and tell people to go to another ISP.

if free wants to play troll toll hardball..
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Just block Googles services to free.

So Google should stoop to Free's level? I thought Google "does no evil." Google should file a complaint with France and the EU. Petty tit-for-tats isn't the answer. Legally squashing what Google believes to be injustices is the correct, longterm action, establishes precedence, and prevents a potential "arms race".

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: Just block Googles services to free.

said by openbox9:

So Google should stoop to Free's level? I thought Google "does no evil."

So post a message: Google operates almost all it's services for free because advertising pays for those costs. As your ISP has unilaterally decided to block those ads without our or your previous consent, we are unable to offer the service for free.

There's a difference between "does no evil" and "deciding not to operate a service without some type of compensation."
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Just block Googles services to free.

Did you read the rest of my post?

AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

Re: Just block Googles services to free.

said by openbox9:

Did you read the rest of my post?

»www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/techn···all&_r=0
--
* seek help if having trouble coping
--Standard disclaimers apply.--
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

On one hand....

Not sure how I feel about this.

On one hand I think there is nothing wrong with them doing this being they are providing a service and giving the users the option to opt in if they want them. It it not like they are outright blocking them and the user's have no options and have to pay extra to get them which would be a violation of net neutrality principles.

On the other hand, if they are going to white-list a company because they are willing to pay to have their data delivered to the consumer I believe they have crossed the net neutrality line and thus this should not be allowed and they should be fined accordingly.

Then you have the content providers themselves. What if Google, YouTube and all those other sites that rely on ad revenues decide to block Free's IP block and thus makes their network less desirable for consumers? I bet the websites would win this fight.

NotTheMama
What Would Earl Do?

join:2012-12-06

Re: On one hand....

Having ISPs altering [my delivered] website pages is not something I want, regardless of the reason.

However, having an ISP provide a customer with a desirable feature can only be a good thing--within reason.

Lastly, it's not like someone who wants such a feature was ever going to click-thru anyway, so ads might as well not be there (and if the customer wants to authorize the ISP to alter his/her webpages... meh, not my concern).

("Three-handed" arguments are 50% better than the two-handed variety, eh? )
--
"...but ya doesn't hasta call me Johnson!"
silbaco
Premium
join:2009-08-03
USA

1 recommendation

Re: On one hand....

But such a feature can be had with Adblock Plus with relative ease. Is there any reason for an ISP to block ads? I honestly can't see that it would even work that well being placed in the modem, but perhaps I would be surprised.

NotTheMama
What Would Earl Do?

join:2012-12-06

Re: On one hand....

The only thing I want my ISP/router/modem doing is delivering packets--unaltered. Give 'em an inch, and they'll take a mile--this is half-way toward replacing other ads with their own (but if others want it then that's their business). False-positives aside, I trust an ISP to look out for itself first and its customers, at best, second or, more likely, not at all. They only need to do one thing--provide the service I'm paying for (Internet access--aka dumb/dumber/dumbest pipe).
--
"...but ya doesn't hasta call me Johnson!"

cork1958
Cork
Premium
join:2000-02-26
said by silbaco:

But such a feature can be had with Adblock Plus with relative ease. Is there any reason for an ISP to block ads? I honestly can't see that it would even work that well being placed in the modem, but perhaps I would be surprised.

Ads can also be blocked with a decent host file instead of some stupid, slow me down even if only minimal, add on!

Man! I wish Charter would implement this "feature"

I'd LOVE to kick Google in the digital crotch!!
--
The Firefox alternative.
»www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/
Chubbysumo

join:2009-12-01
Superior, WI
Reviews:
·Charter
said by silbaco:

Is there any reason for an ISP to block ads? I honestly can't see that it would even work that well being placed in the modem, but perhaps I would be surprised.

With the way free operates, I would guess that the sheer volume of data wasted on ads for their entire customer base is quite a bit, and they would save quite a bit in peering if they cut out the ads.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
said by Skippy25:

On one hand I think there is nothing wrong with them doing this being they are providing a service and giving the users the option to opt in if they want them.

The problem here is that blocking is being defaulted in the router, where very few customers have the brains or interest in going in to the router to change to opt-in.
--
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.
fieroloki

join:2007-07-29
Van Alstyne, TX

Re: On one hand....

They wouldn't do that anyway. They would call the ISP.

TamaraB
Question The Current Paradigm
Premium
join:2000-11-08
Da Bronx
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
·Clearwire Wireless
said by FFH:

The problem here is that blocking is being defaulted in the router, where very few customers have the brains or interest in going in to the router to change to opt-in.

Ads and other intrusive garbage should be opt-in by default. I block all ads everywhere. I wouldn't mind if add-blocking were the default as it would relieve me of the need to actively block ads/ad-servers/trackers..... I don't know anyone who would complain about the lack of ads, and having to turn them on. I think most folks would see the lack of ads as a benefit.

There really should be CHOICE. I choose to financially support sites I use when I have the CHOICE to do so, like here on dslr.

--
"Remember, remember the fifth of November.
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people"


r81984
Fair and Balanced
Premium
join:2001-11-14
Katy, TX
Reviews:
·row44

Re: On one hand....

No way.
Net neutrality works both ways.
An ISP should never be allowed to block anything except known bot nets or virus traffic.

There is nothing wrong with the ISP allowing the user to turn on the blocking.
Basically when you sign up it can prompt you do you want to use ad block - yes or no. They could also ask people on the phone or just let the user log into the modem and turn it on.

If the user turns it on then there is 0 problem with the ad blocking.
--
...brought to you by Carl's Jr.
silbaco
Premium
join:2009-08-03
USA
Although I see what you mean, ads do essentially finance the internet. In this economy, there are very few who would finance any of the websites they visit. Even fewer finance more than a couple. The amount of websites available would take a drastic dive if they relied on donations alone.

TamaraB
Question The Current Paradigm
Premium
join:2000-11-08
Da Bronx
Reviews:
·Optimum Online
·Clearwire Wireless

Re: On one hand....

said by silbaco:

Although I see what you mean, ads do essentially finance the internet. In this economy, there are very few who would finance any of the websites they visit. Even fewer finance more than a couple. The amount of websites available would take a drastic dive if they relied on donations alone.

Doesn't that say there is more trash out there than stuff people deem valuable? What's wrong with a free-market approach? If it's worth something people will pay, if not? Take out the trash. I don't think quantity over quality serves anyone well.
--
"Remember, remember the fifth of November.
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot."

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people"


88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness
said by TamaraB:

said by FFH:

The problem here is that blocking is being defaulted in the router, where very few customers have the brains or interest in going in to the router to change to opt-in.

Ads and other intrusive garbage should be opt-in by default. I block all ads everywhere. I wouldn't mind if add-blocking were the default as it would relieve me of the need to actively block ads/ad-servers/trackers..... I don't know anyone who would complain about the lack of ads, and having to turn them on. I think most folks would see the lack of ads as a benefit.

There really should be CHOICE. I choose to financially support sites I use when I have the CHOICE to do so, like here on dslr.

So people who make websites should work for free? Do YOU work for free? You either put up with ads, pay for access or LEAVE. that's the way I see it. YOU don't work for free. Don't expect others to do so. No such thing as a free lunch.

•••••
kevinds
Premium
join:2003-05-01
Calgary, AB
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Shaw
That is my concern,
If Free is blocking all ads, if I pay Free money, will my ads then be unblocked, regardless if the user wants all ads blocked.
--
Yes, I am not employed and looking for IT work. Have passport, will travel.

Mert

@comcast.net

Block the Google

I have blocked all of Google's ads for the last 3 years on my 3K user network. Small potatoes to Google. They wronged me a while ago and I haven't forgotten. It's petty, I know.

Radio Active
My pappy's a pistol
Premium
join:2003-01-31
Fullerton, CA

I got mine...

Everyone else can kiss my arse.

That's pretty much what it's coming down to, ya greedy gits!
--
I'm a son of a gun...
Brisk

join:2003-07-11
Colorado Springs, CO

I don't block ads...

Because I realize it "pays" for a site.
But spying on me without my knowledge and/or without disclosure is a different matter. Any information someone has on me I should be allowed to see.
Facebook and others don't think so, with their private marketing databases that keep your own information a secret from you.
Even Google does it at some level, they just call it "personalization" (which is code for "pushing objective content to the bottom of your search results").

In short:
Analytic/spying/"personalization" blocking = good, Ad blocking = bad.
They should block analytics at a network level, not ads.
They would still be doing users a favor, and wouldn't have nearly as much backlash.

cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27

Free is correct...

There is nothing free about Google. They make an average of $6500/person/yr. That is nothing to sneeze at. And considering they are riding on the ISPs (Gmail, Chrome, Search engine, Analytics, Adrevenue...) for their income, makes you wonder if the Kansas Fiber project was about something else they plan on achieving...
--
Splat

RWSI

join:2012-11-27
Albuquerque, NM

Blocking????

Blocking ads, you have got to be kidding. Google still gets paid by the one buying ad space on the Google search even if they don't show up.

It comes down to being pointless and Google still wins.

Google in return could not post any French websites. It works both way readers.

David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101

Could be an interesting way to make money.

Block the ads so you don't have to carry adblockers. I could see the potential.

jduffy
Premium
join:2006-08-20
Cincinnati, OH
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Vonage
·net2phone
·Cincinnati Bell
·Skype
·Callcentric
·ooma

Re: Could be an interesting way to make money.

Then when sites start charging to access information because ads will not longer support it since no one wants to pay for ads that are not viewed, people will cry foul again. Nothing is free.
--
Atheists swear there is no Heaven, but pray there isn't a Hell.