Internet Provider Not Allowed to Block Ads: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

The French government has persuaded one of that country's major Internet providers to drop a plan that would have blocked all website advertising automatically. Government officials said the move could have placed the future of many successful websites in doubt.

Free, a broadband provider to more than five million French subscribers, proposed to update software on its cable modems to, by default, block website advertisements. Its customers would see a blank space where advertisements appeared on websites delivered via its competitors' Internet services.

(The firm's name -- Free -- reflects how much its customers pay to obtain the cable modem or other computer equipment required to access Free's web service.)

Several major Internet firms, including Google, would have been adversely affected by Free's 'no advertisement' plan. Google not only serves advertising on its own websites, such as YouTube, but also administrates the ads served on millions of independent websites.

Ad Block Plan Seen As Attempted Money Grab

Some observers believe Free's plan to block all Internet advertising may have been an attempt to pressure Google into sharing some of its advertising revenue with the French Internet provider.

If that's accurate, then Free's management team must be trying to rescind what they believe is Google's free ride.

Although the search giant is ultimately responsible for a large proportion of the traffic carried by Free, the fact is that Google doesn't have to pay the costs of carrying all that data. (Source:

Free's plan to block all advertising didn't fly, though. Instead, it immediately upset a large number of website operators, including a group of French web-based news companies. They said an Internet provider blocking ads without the express permission of its customers was guilty of a form of censorship.

Websites Rely On Ad Revenue

Other analysts said such unilateral ad blocking could threaten the entire economy of the Internet because many websites, both large and small, rely on advertising revenue to survive.

Fluer Pellerin, the French government minister responsible for Internet business in that country, has now met with an executive from Free to discuss the issue. Pellerin says Free has decided to ditch its plan to block advertising.

"No lone actor can jeopardize the system in a unilateral way," Pellerin added. (Source:

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