back to article Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket' – UK's Minister of Fun

UK Culture Minister John Whittingdale compared ad-blocking software to “a modern day protection racket” in his Oxford Media Convention keynote yesterday. But a study of the full text shows he would prefer to bang some sense into the ad industry, rather than shake down individuals using content filters in their web browsers. …

  1. Electron Shepherd
    Unhappy

    Takes one to know one

    So, I buy a television, to which I plan to connect to a DVD player and games console only. Don't need a TV licence, do I?

    Let's see who comes knocking on the door, shall we?

    1. Cynical Observer

      Re: Takes one to know one

      From the Official TV Licensing website

      You need a valid TV Licence if you use TV receiving equipment to watch or record television programmes as they’re being shown on TV. ‘TV receiving equipment’ means any equipment which is used to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV. This includes a TV, computer, mobile phone, games console, digital box, DVD/VHS recorder or any other device.

      So... if you can demonstrably prove that you cannot receive a signal to the TV then yes, invite them to go whistle. Off course if you possess a device capable of watching through iPlayer at the same time as the programmes are being broadcast then you are back on the hook again.

      But to be fair, they do have a page where you can inform them that you do not require a licence.

      http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/telling-us-you-dont-need-a-tv-licence

      1. Steve Crook

        Re: Takes one to know one

        The operative word in that paragraph is "USE". If you can show them that, despite having the equipment, it's not actually in a position to use the service without significant effort, there's not much they can do.

        Otherwise we'd all be paying just because we own a computer.

        All of which points up just how much of an imposition this poll tax is. Subscriptions :-)

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Takes one to know one

          "

          The operative word in that paragraph is "USE". If you can show them that, despite having the equipment, it's not actually in a position to use the service without significant effort, there's not much they can do.

          "

          Again, you have it the wrong way round. If they cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that you *have actually* used the equipment to receive broadcast TV, you cannot be convicted. Just as with all other crime, in the UK there is no onus upon the suspect to prove that they are innocent.

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Takes one to know one

        One minor quibble. It's not up to you to prove you cannot receive a signal. It's up to THEM to prove that you actually HAVE. It's perfectly LEGAL to own a tv hooked to a tv aerial with no license.

        Admittedly with no other reason for owning one you might have trouble convincing them to 'go whistle', but the fact remains, despite the behaviour of some tv licensing drones, the principle of 'innocent until proven otherwise' applies.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Takes one to know one

          Quite right. And if they send someone to your door you politely ask them to leave. If they can't see inside your house they can't prove you receive live TV Signals (unless perhaps you clearly have a brand new aerial/sky dish).

          You can also write a letter to TVL telling them that you revoke their assumed right of access to your front door. This means they would be tresspassing by knocking on your front door. This stops them from bothering you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Takes one to know one

            It will be intimidation.

            If the RIAA/MAFIAA can turn up at private residences in the UK with a police escort, why can't the BBC?

            Or they will just send a demand for payment, followed by threats of bailiffs and fines in court.

            It will be bluff, but most people won't risk a fight with State approved racketeers.

            And once human rights are abolished, who knows what the outcome will be. Although the TV license will probably the least of your worries...

        2. peter_dtm
          FAIL

          @Martin-73

          NO

          you are licensed to posses RECEIVING equipment. Nothing in the licence actually presumes you actually use the equipment.

          In order to posses (television) receiving equipment you are required to have a suitable licence.

          A TV can be sat locked away in the basement; but if it is capable of being powered on then you need a licence (aerials are optional).

          Pedant note - you require a licence per HOUSEHOLD. Be careful here; the definition of a Household may surprise you (Student digs; 2nd house etc etc).

          So you will be whistling all the way to court if you think they have to prove you had the thing turned on. The old detector vans were used to detect the TV set; not if you were watching.

          Have ANY receiver section capable of receiving TV signals off air/satellite or in real time from the internet/other real time technology - then you need a TV licence; the receiver doesn't even have to be capable of displaying moving images; just the ability to recieve the audio sub carrier STILL REQUIRES A TV Licence.

          1. A Ghost

            Re: @Martin-73

            Have ANY receiver section capable of receiving TV signals off air/satellite or in real time from the internet/other real time technology - then you need a TV licence; the receiver doesn't even have to be capable of displaying moving images; just the ability to recieve the audio sub carrier STILL REQUIRES A TV Licence.

            That maybe so, but most people don't have 'receivers' or tv cards in their computer. I do not. I still watch iPlayer, but I don't legally need a license for that because of the loophole. If I watched live tv I would, but I don't, so I don't need it. I used to listen to the radio and sometimes even the BBC, but that doesn't need a license either. I no longer even turn the radio on because it is so offensive.

            So, having a computer and an internet connection capable of RECEIVING a live broadcast, DOES NOT REQUIRE YOU TO HAVE A TV LICENSE.

            Just thought I'd clear that up. You do NOT need a tv license to watch iPlayer on a computer as long as you do not watch in real time or watch any other live tv. Simple.

            I really do hope they close this loophole. Because it will just be another nail in the BBC's coffin.

            People have different views on this, and I'm ok with that. I resent being judged as immoral though just because, well, I don't like tv and I don't like any of the programs they make.

            At the end of the day, people are doing away with tv as a medium (the younger generation), so the bbc want to close the loophole. Good luck with that - getting kids to pay for the bbc. Another organisation that hasn't really thought this through and is just throwing its weight about.

            So just make sure you don't have a tv in your house or a tv card RECEIVER, and then you don't even have to talk to them. It's entirely up to them to catch you out and apply to a local judge to grant a search warrant to be enforced by the police. Can't imagine the police would be too happy with them doing that very often though. I'm sure they would do it all the time out of spite if they could, because they are a spiteful organisation - both bbc and capita. That would be like 3 hours of police time wasted if they came to my house.

            I would have to move stuff that there is no space to move it to - I would have to put it outside and then they would have to physically open up one of my ten or so computers, one at a time to check if it had a video card. I can not see the police or the magistrate being very happy at all about that waste of precious resources. Oh, you can investigate your own burglary, but we just sent 2 policemen on a jolly for 3-4 hours, because tv licensing got a bit uppity that no one replied to them when they were not even legally bound to reply in the first place. Go right ahead and be my guest. Like they say in the adverts: WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!

            The last time I wrote something like this, they were actually monitoring my internet connection and sent some goons around to give my door a hard knock THE VERY NEXT DAY. You paid for that in your license fee - harrassment of people who have done nothing wrong.

            You speak to me with a civil tongue in your head, and you will get back the same. You talk to me like I'm a piece of shit, I won't enter into dialogue with you. Simple as well. I wonder how much longer it will be before they knock on my door again. Probably tomorrow after reading this post. If they do, I'll be sure to let you know!

            1984 is here.

            1. peter_dtm

              Re: @Martin-73

              yes

              the whoie computer based thing is a massive thorn in their side.

              The dividing line is HOW you get the 'last mile' of tv viewing into your household. If it involves radio broadcast; or point to point radio link (does NOT include networking technologies.... at the moment (cynic) ) then it all falls under the Receiving apparatus clauses. If it comes in over the interwebs then you are in the live streaming clauses - live stream - need licence; delayed streaming - licence free.

              Yes capita is evil.

              Yes the RA will rouse out plod and confiscate illegal radio apparatus if you make a nuisance of yourself; and take you to court; fine you & bang you up if you are really naughty.

              Capita does not have any search & seizure rights; under certain circumstances the RA does (being the duly authorized body all the licences go on about)

            2. Vic

              Re: @Martin-73

              So, having a computer and an internet connection capable of RECEIVING a live broadcast, DOES NOT REQUIRE YOU TO HAVE A TV LICENSE.

              TV Licensing disagrees with you.

              Vic.

          2. David Neil

            Re: @Martin-73

            Incorrect, there have been legal victories by demonstrating that the set is not tuned to receive a signal

          3. TheOtherHobbes

            Re: @Martin-73

            >A TV can be sat locked away in the basement; but if it is capable of being powered on then you need a licence (aerials are optional).

            Nope. The legislation says clearly that it must be installed or used.

            Most magistrates won't be too impressed with any suggestion that sitting in a cupboard/basement with no aerial counts as installation, even if it's plugged in.

            Here's the exact wording:

            http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/section/363

            Of course technically this covers all computers with a browser, because you can stream BBC Live in a browser without iPlayer.

            I'm not aware of any test cases that cover this. Clearly if they did you wouldn't have a TV license but a computer license.

            This might not be a popular move. Even so, it's a valid legal argument given the wording.

            Of course the idea that TV license dodging is a criminal offence is insane anyway. There's no rational justification for it.

          4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: @Martin-73

            So you will be whistling all the way to court if you think they have to prove you had the thing turned on. The old detector vans were used to detect the TV set; not if you were watching.

            Hahahaha. No. The old 'detector' vans were White Ford Transits with an aerial glued to the roof which were then driven around areas where they knew not many people would have a TV license (also known as poor areas), to scare people into buying one.

            1. Vic

              Re: @Martin-73

              Hahahaha. No. The old 'detector' vans were White Ford Transits with an aerial glued to the roof which were then driven around areas where they knew not many people would have a TV license (also known as poor areas), to scare people into buying one.

              Indeed.

              They did actually have the capability to determine which houses were watching which channels - there's enough leakage from the LO to tell with accuracy - but those vans did not contain that equipment; it wasn't needed.

              Vic.

          5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: @Martin-73

            "

            you are licensed to posses RECEIVING equipment. Nothing in the licence actually presumes you actually use the equipment.

            "

            Perhaps you should take the trouble to read the TV Licencing Act, whereupon you will discover that you are wronger than a wrong thing.

        3. Chronos Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Takes one to know one

          Martin-73 wrote: the principle of 'innocent until proven otherwise' applies.

          s/until/unless/ It's a subtle distinction but a very important one.

        4. Jess

          Re: It's perfectly LEGAL to own a tv hooked to a tv aerial with no license.

          No, it's not. (Or to be fair last time I owned a TV licence it wasn't).

          The licence stated for use or installation.

          (It is possible it has changed to avoid covering non TV equipment capable of using iPlayer on the internet.)

          1. streaky Silver badge

            Re: It's perfectly LEGAL to own a tv hooked to a tv aerial with no license.

            Guys - the discussion is about UK licenses not German ones or whatever the hell you're all talking about.

            The license is for watching TV not owning and having one plugged in. Simple as that. No ifs/buts. Go read the act. Then go UNDERSTAND the WORDING of the act.

            Or failing that go read what the TVLA thinks it means. http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one

      3. John70

        Just add what Cynical Observer has said...

        The "Minister of Fun" was also talking about the changes to the TV Licence regarding the iPlayer.

        Basically saying if you watch anything on iPlayer whether it's being broadcast live or not you will need a TV Licence. They are wanting to push this through Parliament as soon as possible.

        So I'm guessing that if any device has iPlayer on it, time to cough up the TV tax.

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Takes one to know one

        "

        ... if you can demonstrably prove that you cannot receive a signal to the TV ...

        "

        Wrong. As much as TV licencing want you to believe otherwise, the onus is still upon the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you deliberately used a receiver to show or record a TV program that was being broadcast at the time. Proof that you have the apparatus and capability to do so will no more result in a conviction than proof that you have the apparatus and capability to kill someone would get you convicted of murder.

        If you are stupid enough to invite a TV licencing inspector into your home, and that person switches on your TV set and notes that it immediately displays a broadcast TV program, then note that the only offence was committed by the licencing inspector himself, not you! Because it is not illegal to own a TV set that is ready and capable of receiving broadcast TV, the offence is of *operating* (or installing) the set that is not covered by a licence.

        There is also no more a requirement to advise TV licencing that you do not need a TV licence than there is to advise the fisheries department that you do not require a fishing license, or to advise the DVLA that you do not require an HGV driving license.

        1. peter_dtm

          @Cynic_999

          NO and NO again

          It is the APPARATUS that is licensed. Whether it is plugged in; has an aerial attached does not matter. It does not matter whether you 'operate' it or not. (now go and think about Vehicle Excise duty; I am sure you wouldn't try to make the same claim?)

          They only have to prove you have on your premises (actually worse than that in your household) an apparatus for receiving TV signals (and note the apparatus does not have to be able to decode said TV signals).

          What they do not have is ANY right of entry or inspection. To get access to your household requires a warrant.

          The requirement to have a license to watch live streaming over the internet (or any other method of distribution) has been ADDED to the Television license; as your PC is not (in terms of the Radio Regulations) receiving apparatus.

          OfCom used to have a copy of the Television Receiving Apparatus licence on their website

          1. arctic_haze Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: @Cynic_999

            "They only have to prove you have on your premises (actually worse than that in your household) an apparatus for receiving TV signals (and note the apparatus does not have to be able to decode said TV signals)."

            This can't be true. Any piece of wire is enough to receive a microwave signal. Well, so is water, meat (that's why microwave ovens work) and even yourself.

            Of course a TV dinner will not decode the TV signal. But it does receive it. So it needs a license!!!

            1. peter_dtm

              Re: @Cynic_999

              Nope

              a piece of wire is not an apparatus. Nor is your brain - although there is evidence that indicates it may interact with certain frequencies of radio waves.

              Apparatus - (in this case) equipment designed and/or built to recover information from radio waves.

              So take your bit of wire; wind some of it into a coil with a capacitor in parallel; connect that to a 'crystal' (diode)and connect that to a pair of high impedance high sensitive earphone - you have just built a crystal set - apparatus for the reception of radio waves. It all needs to be put together to make it 'apparatus'. They don't get all pedantic over what words they use for nothing.

              You may by now wonder what the difference between a household & a house is (or even premises ) - a household has been found by the courts to include a rented room in a house where the person renting did not live with the rest of the people in the house as a common community - and was thus illegally in possession of a television set contrary to the licensing laws.....

          2. Vic

            Re: @Cynic_999

            It is the APPARATUS that is licensed. Whether it is plugged in; has an aerial attached does not matter. It does not matter whether you 'operate' it or not.

            TV Licensing disagrees with you:

            You need to be covered by a TV Licence if you watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV or live on an online TV service. This is the case whether you use a TV, computer, tablet, mobile phone, games console, digital box, DVD/VHS recorder or any other device.

            Of course, they might just be lying...

            Vic.

        2. A Ghost
          Thumb Up

          Re: @ Cynic_999

          Actually that is right.

          I know because I nearly borrowed a tv/video off my mum for the purpose of playing back some vhs tapes with a view to digitizing them (for which I would have to buy a tv card and be marked as such after doing so).

          In the end, I decided against it and have no tv on my property, as I have not had this century - literally. But there is no law that says you can not look after your mum's tv if her house burns down. That is legal. It only becomes illegal when you use it to watch live tv (you can legally own a tv to just watch videos and this has precedent in law where someone claimed just this and got off), without already having a license.

          Again, they have to prove that you have broken the law. You do not have to prove you are innocent. Yet!

          If I was forced to pay the bbc a tax, I would switch off my internet connection (which I am in the process of doing anyway. You would need to hold a gun to my head for me to give these scumbags a penny. The savile whitewash travesty was the last straw for me and this is where I draw a line in the sand. They have dumbed down to nothing now anyway. No great loss.

          1. Suricou Raven

            Re: @ Cynic_999

            Don't be sure quick to dismiss the BBC. They have certainly dumbed down in some respects, but their documentary content is still among the best in the world - and no ancient aliens from them.

            1. Jagged

              Re: @ Cynic_999

              Yes, their documentaries are "mostly" still good. I put this down to the fact they keep a number of older presenters around (like the great David Attenborough). Watch some of the newer intake of presenters on different subjects (dare I mention Click?) and it can be pretty awful.

              And lets not mention the Humphries/Paxxman style interviewing which has taken over BBC1 and Radio4, which I consider an insult to the intelligence of everyone involved, interviewee and audience alike :(

        3. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Takes one to know one

          "Proof that you have the apparatus and capability to do so will no more result in a conviction than proof that you have the apparatus and capability to kill someone would get you convicted of murder."

          You, Sir, have touching faith in the Magistrates who can be massively pragmatic when adjudicating.

      5. A Ghost

        Re: Takes one to know one

        You are under no legal obligation to enter into any form of contact with them. Verbal or written.

        It is not up to you to prove your innocence, it is up to them to prove your guilt. They can apply for a search warrant and the police to come knocking if they have reason to believe you are breaking the law. Happens all the time.

        I keep a fishing rod in my cupboard, but I don't fish without a license. I don't have people knocking on my door saying 'ooh, you have a fishing rod, you must therefore fish illegally'.

        I am only going by and respecting the law as it stands. I am only repeating freely available information. You do not have to enter into any discourse with these people, even if they knock on your door. Just tell them to remove themselves from your property or you will call the police.

        N.B. I do not advocate breaking the laws of the land. If it is legally necessary for you to buy a license, you must do so. If it is not, then you have nothing to worry about, and you don't have to waste a second of your precious life on them.

        Since when did the country turn into a totalitarian dictatorship?

        (oh, last week, I forgot)

        And anyway, why is this whole Ad-Blocker/BBC license bullshit being conflated? Has no one else noticed this? Are they trying to say using an Ad-Blocker is like watching the BBC without a license via catchup via iPlayer (you don't need a license for that). Mentally deranged, except they know exactly what they are doing.

        1. peter_dtm

          @ A Ghost

          NO

          you need a fishing licence to go fishing. You do not need to have a fishing licence to have apparatus for fishing in your possession - but I wouldn't give you much chance in the courts if you took your fishing apparatus for a walk near a canal/river/lake

          You do however need a licence for Television Receiving Apparatus if your household has a piece of equipment capable of receiving broadcast television signals OR if you use apparatus to view live broadcast content in real time. (just look closely at that OR statement; watching on PCs is NOT the same as watching a goggle box)

          You need to Tax your car whether you use it or not (unless you have a SORN notice) - there is NO equivalent of SORN for TV receiving apparatus. You have it in your household you are supposed to licence it.

          Why do so many people get this wrong every few months

          A TV licence is a licence to have in your possession apparatus capable of receiving broadcast TV signals.

          No; it does not have to be turned on. It does not need an aerial attached. The fuse in the plug can be removed. It just has to be capable of being energised.

          However; you MAY NOT need a TV licence if you have an Amateur Radio licence and you can demonstrate you do not use your TV receiver to receive broadcast signals; and have it purely for experimental reasons for the furtherance of your technical investigations. And; of course; you can demonstrate the same for any other TV set in your household. For the man in the street that is about the only legal way of not needing a licence when there is a TV set in the household (OK so most 'Man in the Street' types do not have Amateur Radio Licences).

          1. A Ghost
            Thumb Up

            Re: @peter_dtm

            Yes. That is exactly what I said. You were totally agreeing with me, but thought I made the opposite point.

            Ah, the internet... I gave you an upvote though.

            No worries, we're both on the same page. I know this inside out as I am actually being harrassed by them. In fact, I am even prepared for them to get a court order. So my hands are clean and I'm ready for anything they can throw at me. But I'm not low-hanging fruit, so maybe they will leave me alone. I expect the police at any time though.

            Oh, and I don't really have a fishing rod either.

          2. A Ghost
            Thumb Down

            Re: @ peter_dtm

            You do however need a licence for Television Receiving Apparatus if your household has a piece of equipment capable of receiving broadcast television signals OR if you use apparatus to view live broadcast content in real time. (just look closely at that OR statement; watching on PCs is NOT the same as watching a goggle box)

            Could you point me to the actual legislation on this, because as I understand it, what you say is blatantly wrong. That is why I changed my upvote to a downvote for you as I agreed with your first point, but not this.

            I am 99 percent sure you DO NOT need a license just to have Television Receiving Apparatus in your home. I could just be buying a present in the form of a tv card for my brother for example, yet not have a tv or a computer to run it. Apart from that, I might buy the whole tv/computer/tv card kit and caboodle for him, if it is wrapped up in cellophane, who the hell could successfully prosecute a case against me? I would not admit anything to them (they would have to catch me first) and deny the whole matter. They would then have the onus upon them to prove in a court of law that I had broken the law. It's illegal to have a boxed AK-47 in your airing cupboard, but not a boxed tv or tv receiver.

            That is why I was so confident of actually putting a tv on my property, even if the goons called with the police. I honestly do not watch tv. I am innocent. But I refuse to have to prove my innocence whilst there is no actual law that says I have to.

            Dealing drugs is illegal. I don't have to let the police into my house to do a drug search every week just to prove to them that I am 'clean'. Well, I probably would if it was the police. But the tv inspectors (sorry for calling you goons, I'm sure you have mouths to feed like everyone else) do not have that power.

            And it comes to something when you are being followed around the internet by these 'people' and you feel the need to say - PLEASE DON'T BREAK MY DOOR DOWN, I DON'T HAVE A TV HONEST - because the bastards are stalking me. That must be an even better job than knocking on people's doors.

            I wonder how my doctor will react tomorrow when she asks me how my paranoia is doing. I shall tell her I am feeling much better, but that I have to waste my time writing messages to the TV PEOPLE WHO ARE STALKING AND FOLLOWING ME ON THE INTERWEBZ. I am curious how she will react.

            "You mean, you are actually being stalked by real people, that work for the TV licensing authority?"

            "Yes, they check everything I write on public internet forums and if I mention them at all, they knock on my door the next day, really hard".

            "Really?"

            "Yes"

            I wonder if they will still think I am suffering from paranoia then?

            Btw, I don't suffer from paranoia, I don't have a tv, and I most certainly do not have a fishing rod. Oh, and no AK-47 either. I checked with the police to see if it was ok if I got a license for one, and after a short pause to think about it, a slight tilt of the head to the right, and what I could have sworn was a bit of a stifled smirk, the officer of the law in question, just smiled back at me, as I was briskly wheeled away by 'nursie' again...

            In all seriousness, I would like to see that legislation, as I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist. But I'm happy to be proved wrong...

            1. peter_dtm
              Coat

              Re: @ peter_dtm

              it is all governed by various treaties actually. The government currently hold you Radio Receiving Apparatus licence for you (with no charge).

              All 'radio' apparatus is required to be licensed. OfCom/the Radio Agency used to have a sample copy of the tv licence lying around somewhere on their web site. You may also note that I pedantically use the term apparatus as the definition is in the capability of the equipment. Note that radio apparatus for receiving Broadcast Television signals has an added section regarding the use of computer equipment to receive real time streaming of broadcast material that is in addition to and different from the (original) clauses referring to the use of apparatus for receiving television broadcast signals. Needless to say I can not put my hands on the latest iteration of the TV licence; but I did throw out an old 70s era licence a few months ago....

              Your present of a COMPONENT of receiving apparatus (the sim card/TV card you refer to) does not require a licence because it is not Apparatus for the receiving of broadcast television signals; it is also NOT apparatus used for streaming video. It is merely an decrypt key that is not specific to radio apparatus at all

              Even so called licence free PMR radios (or radio equipment of very low power) are technically exempt from requiring the issuing of a licence (note again not exempt from a licence...).

              All radio equipment (radios; TVs; PMR walkie talkies; mobile telephones; wireless routers etc) are made to (international) standards and work in either specific bands or on spot frequencies. Where exempt from licensing you can go buy & use to your hearts content. Use some of the non licence exempt frequencies (the vast majority of the radio spectrum) and you need a licence to HAVE the equipment in your possession. People who are allowed to 'play' with radio equipment always have to have a licence OR are legally limited in what they are allowed to do. So I am licensed to operate; repair and experiment with radio apparatus for the Amateur Radio Bands (see relevant Radio treaties and regulations eg BR68 which is the Amateur Radio Licence issued by the Radio Agency). Someone doing business repairing PMR radios either has their own licence to work on certified equipment - or works under (cough cough) supervision of a duly licensed person.

              I guess I didn't end up pointing you to a copy of your TV licence - but troll through the assorted different types of licence on the Radio Agency/OfCom web sites & you will soon get the feeling about how it all works. That is; if you can stand the turgid, pedantic and recondite language used.

              As an illustration; the Radio Agency does not normally prosecute people who end up with Amateur Radio apparatus because their licensed partner/parent/guardian/child died - but they don't expect them to hang on to the kit (or use it !) indefinitely either.

              In summary :

              By international treaty (IIRC started with the Convention of London around 1911) ALL radio apparatus must be licensed.

              Some apparatus using defined frequency bands may be made licence exempt

              Some governments (UK US etc) hold licences on your behalf (eg broadcast radio receivers which are still licensed as they do not operate in an exempt band)

              BR68 is an example of a radio licence - other examples are available on either OfCom or Radio Agency web sites

              1. Jess

                Re: it is all governed by various treaties actually.

                So what you are saying is technically all radio kit needs a licence.

                The only licence you can get for TVs covers installation and use.

                You cannot get one for simple ownership alone.

                However owning a TV that isn't installed is outside TVL's remit, and would have to be prosecuted under a different law, which would be the same as say having any other unused non exempt radio receiver.

                I have never heard of such a case, the nearest thing would be CB radio in the 80s.

                I believe the licence includes a right to inspect equipment within reasonable hours (it used to) therefore no licence, no right of entry. Licence, no need of entry (except monochrome licences where they think there is a colour TV, but that shows how long ago I last had a TV)

              2. Vic

                Re: @ peter_dtm

                All 'radio' apparatus is required to be licensed

                That's trivially disproved by the existence of ISM-band kit.

                Needless to say I can not put my hands on the latest iteration of the TV licence

                You can't put your hands on a version of the licence that supports your argument because it doesn't exist. I'm not certain if what you calim was ever true - but it isn't now. You appear to be quoting the Amateur Radio licence coditions - where the licence covers both apparatus and operator - but that is a very different situation to TV licensing.

                BR68 is an example of a radio licence - other examples are available

                Find a link to demostrate that your view of TV licensing is correct - because so far, you've written a lot of words but have provided absolutely no evidence to support your assertion whatsoever.

                Vic.

            2. Graham Dawson

              Re: @ A Ghost

              TVL's own page clarifies it quite nicely.

              "If you own or possess a television set without installing or using it as a TV receiver (e.g. you only use it to watch videos or DVDs, or as a monitor for a games console) then you don’t need a TV Licence."

              1. peter_dtm

                @Graham Dawson

                quote

                TVL's own page clarifies it quite nicely.

                /quote

                TVL are not the courts (nor are they Parliament) and have no legal standing to make this statement - OfCom told them off about this years ago; but they persist in miss-representing the situation.

                The law is specific - if some apparatus is capable of receiving broadcast tv signals then you require a TV licence. However TVL and their attack dogs Capita MAY DECIDE NOT TO TAKE ACTION.

                The licensing laws remain on the books AND ARE STILL ENFORCEABLE.

                TVL should say something like this :

                If you own or possess a television set without installing or using it as a TV receiver (e.g. you only use it to watch videos or DVDs, or as a monitor for a games console) then ....... WE WILL TAKE NO ACTION if you do not have a tv licence

                sorry.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @Graham Dawson

                  peter_dtm you are COMPLETELY and UTTERLY WRONG.

                  What you are saying was the law DECADES ago.

                  Like most things, it has changed.

                  The Law was changed by ACT OF PARLIAMENT

                  So that it is the RECEIVING of LIVE tv broadcasts that now requires a TV LICENCE

                  Ownering equipment NO LONGER is the determining factor. It was the LABOUR government who changed this. Get with the times.

                  PLEASE do your research again.

                  1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

                    Re: Re: @Graham Dawson

                    Less of the rantiness please.

          3. Graham Dawson

            @peter_dtm

            NO (to coin a phrase)

            The TV license doesn't cover the equipment, it covers the live broadcast reception. If your television is installed and used to receive live television broadcasts then you need the license. This includes time-shifting - recording and playback later. If your television is installed for the intent of playing back pre-recorded video then you do not need a license. I know this, because I've had a television for the last decade and not paid a TV license - because I don't watch live television. I don't record television. I don't even use iplayer, live or otherwise. I watch DVDs, I play games, sometimes I watch youtube. I've checked this with TVL themselves and they reluctantly agreed that I don't need a license (though they still send me their threatening letters every so often).

            The license is not for the equipment, but for the use you put it to.

            1. peter_dtm

              @Grahma Dawson

              The TV licence is a licence to posses apparatus capable of receiving broadcast tv signals.

              The USE of such apparatus creates the ACT of live broadcast reception.

              In order to record a (TV) broadcast receiving apparatus has to receive broadcast TV signals. The mere hapanstance of being recorded instead of playing to an empty room or being watched is totally irrelevant; the information you recorded was RECIEVED from a BROADCAST tv signal using receiving apparatus. Said apparatus requires a licence.

              If you take an off air capable video recorder (or satellite box) - you need a licence unless you cripple the off air receiving section; in which case no one cares & you can play your betamax; vhs or hitatchi system videos or mpg3/mpg4/html5 streams all day long.

              Because I hold various radio licences & various certificates of competency; I MAY get away with shorting the aerial input on a video recorder/satellite box and not need a licence for any (TV) receiving apparatus in my possession; but I would need a damned good reason (fixing it for a mate may pass muster).

              Tell Capita to go away - and as advised elsewhere tell them they have no right of entry to your property and to stop harassing you. As long as you have no apparatus capable of receiving broadcast TV signals you are legal - as long as you don't stream off the interwebs in real time either

              1. Vic

                Re: @Grahma Dawson

                The TV licence is a licence to posses apparatus capable of receiving broadcast tv signals.

                This is not true.

                I hold various radio licences & various certificates of competency

                Then you should read those licences. The conditions for one do not necessarily pertain to any other.

                Vic.

          4. Vic

            Re: @ A Ghost

            You do however need a licence for Television Receiving Apparatus if your household has a piece of equipment capable of receiving broadcast television signals OR if you use apparatus to view live broadcast content in real time. (just look closely at that OR statement; watching on PCs is NOT the same as watching a goggle box)

            [Citation needed] - for all of the above, as it differs completely form what TV Licensing says.

            Why do so many people get this wrong every few months

            Perhaps it's because they're all going by what the licensing authority says, rather than what some unknown bloke on the Internet insists is true.

            You've made some extraordinary claims in this thread. They differ markedly from the official advice. Perhaps now would be a good time to start substantiating your argument...

            Vic.

      6. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Takes one to know one

        Have you tried using their 'I don't watch live TV service'. Even without a beer, I found myself committed to another reminder in 1 months time.

      7. streaky Silver badge

        Re: Takes one to know one

        But to be fair, they do have a page where you can inform them that you do not require a licence.

        http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/telling-us-you-dont-need-a-tv-licence

        IANYL but I strongly recommend not using this, it only causes them to hound you more. In my experience it's best to ignore them until they show up with a warrant. This is of course if you're not actually watching TV, if you are and you just don't want to pay this advice will cause you more problems.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Takes one to know one

      What's this got to do with an article about ad-blocking software???

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Takes one to know one

        [@ Credas, what does this have to do with the article:]

        The same speech included some crud about extending the outdated 'tv license' to everything down to your digital watch (which are still a pretty neat idea)

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Takes one to know one

          Yep, two Reg articles about different subjects, but based on the same speech by the Culture Secretary. This little sub thread belongs under the *other* Reg article, the one about the BBC, not this one which is about ad-blockers.

          Ah well, it is nearly Friday!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Takes one to know one

      "So, I buy a television, to which I plan to connect to a DVD player and games console only. Don't need a TV licence, do I?"

      Are you going to use multiplayer on that games console? Then good luck! Dunno how it is in your country, but here you usually get "all in one" packages. So you want Internet? Good, you'll get it with a phone and television subscription.

      1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Takes one to know one

        but here you usually get "all in one" packages.

        Ummm.... my broadband has nothing whatsoever to do with my TV.

        Landline / BB = supplier A

        TV = Freesat as provided by me

        Mobey = Supplier B

        Just because you can buy packages doesn't mean its the only way to do it

    4. VulcanV5

      Re: Takes one to know one

      Shirley this is in the wrong article comment thread? I thought we were talking here about having sex in Morecambe's bus shelters?????

  2. James 51 Silver badge

    Auto-play video ads are incredibly annoying. Banning them would be a good start.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Use a caching adblocking, that way the pages are 'served' to the cache (this defeating anti adblock) but not forwarded to your browser. Diladele does a good job of this (organisationwide too!)

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Thanks, I'll have to look into that.

    2. Chika
      Facepalm

      Finally we get to the meat of the subject. The reason why ad blockers exist is because ads are becoming more intrusive. Just as television is stuffed full of adverts, reminders, bugs, dogs or whatever to the extent that it seems that companies are more interested in showing what is coming up next than what they are showing now, web pages are becoming stuffed full of ads that pop over, pop under, sometimes completely obscure, redirect, get embedded and generally annoy.

      When I first came online back in the 90s, the most you might have expected was a simple ad banner. It got in nobody's way, it annoyed few. OK, it might have been animated but it was usually a GIF, not the flat out flash animations we expect today. Even here on El Reg the amount of banners, animations and whatnot got to a point where you might not be able to concentrate on the article in question! Enough people got fed up with this that ad blockers were developed and people used them.

      Basically, Whittingdale is talking out of his arse but consider the reason why. He represents the Tory view of "fun" which means that he represents business. Part of that will almost certainly be that part which uses the very advertising that we farties block which hurts their bottom line and in turn hurts him and his ilk. What he needs to do is NOT criticise us folk for using ad blockers and NOT criticise the blockers themselves but investigate WHY people use blockers in the first place.

      Advertising is seen as a way of amassing income, and marketing types don't seem to know when to stop, whether it is a simple static ad on a web page, product placement, embedded videos in a stream or Flash overkill. To them it seems that the more you advertise, the more you rake in. What they, and Whittingdale, need to realise is that there are limits to everything. A good, quality ad will do its own job and people will welcome it.

  3. Known Hero

    Shoot yourself in the foot your going to have to live with the consequences.

    Advertisers knew this was coming and did nothing to stop the runaway train.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Not even that

      It is a downwards spiral. The less users look - the more shouty the ads get. The more shouty the ads get, the less the users look and the more ad-blocking you have.

      Frankly, as the internet marketeering and ad scumbags have only two brain cells in-between them it will probably take a regulatory intervention from the rest of the industry which depends on them for their revenue flow to fix it.

      A regulatory enforcement of "text ads only" (as the original google ones) on mobile will be a good start.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Not even that

        "It is a downwards spiral. The less users look - the more shouty the ads get. The more shouty the ads get, the less the users look and the more ad-blocking you have."

        It's the spammer mindset writ large, with the "But our advertising is legitimate" mentality.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not even that

          "It's the spammer mindset writ large, with the "But our advertising is legitimate" mentality."

          Squealing "legitimate business" over and over and over again is usually a good marker; phorm were especially fond of weaving it into every second sentence, and you knew for sure how marginal that claim was when Norman Lamont weighed in on Ertugruls side.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not even that

        "A regulatory enforcement of "text ads only" (as the original google ones) on mobile will be a good start."

        No news laws would be an even better start, but they just can't help themselves thinking up new ways to control the population.

        Following a BREXIT, they'll probably go into overdrive.

        1. Jess

          Re: Following a BREXIT,

          I'm pretty certain a Brexit won't happen. An English exit is pretty likely though, and what you say would apply to that.

      3. FF22

        Re: Not even that

        You make the right observation. And then fail to draw the wrong conclusion. That is: ad blockers are the reason the ad escalation problem exists. And only abolishment of ad blockers is that defuse and solve that problem.

        Of course that can happen in two ways. One: users refrain from using ad blockers voluntarily. Of course that won't happen, because most users are too selfish and stupid to realize that this would be the solution.

        The other: free content will vanish, every site will switch to a subscription model, and the only remaining free content will be the ads themselves. This is what will happen. And in the end ad blockers will get just as useless. But now everyone will have to pay actual cash for content.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          You have confused cause and effect

          The only - and I mean only - reason why people install an adblocker is because they are annoyed by adverts.

          By making advertising more annoying, more people are annoyed by them and install an adblocker.

          The only way this spiral can be broken is to make adverts less annoying.

          If you believe otherwise then you understand very little about human behaviour.

          1. BoldMan

            Re: You have confused cause and effect

            FFS almost a whole page of comments about something that isn't even the slightest bit related to the fucking topic! Mods - KILL it please, kill it with FIRE!!!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not even that

          re: "The other: free content will vanish..."

          The other: commercial content will vanish.

          TFTFY

    2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      All they needed to do were push nice simple flat image or html banners of a reasonable size.

      Not too hard really.

      Even had to ad-block the Reg because of the animated banners, I can't have loads of flashing, swinging bollocks when I'm supposed to be working.

      1. Havin_it
        Joke

        >I can't have loads of flashing, swinging bollocks when I'm supposed to be working.

        There's no place for you on the Chippendales' tour bus, then.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a potential nightmare for online advertisers.

      The people paying for the ISP's service will certainly not be complaining at all. No-one is ever going to leave an ISP because they block ads. Indeed the better the ISP is at blocking ads, the more likely people are to sign up with them.

      And the *only* thing the advertisers can do about it is pay the ISPs money, but that's not going to be easy. First, the ISPs may become reluctant to take the money because their core customers may grow to appreciate the lack of annoying ads. Second, the ISPs could charge the advertisers whatever they like; it's not like the advertisers can go elsewhere. Thirdly, ad blocking could be a significant cost saving for ISPs; bandwidth doesn't come cheap.

      This can't really be counted as being a net neutrality thing either. By running an ad blocker, the user is making an indirect choice not to receive traffic. The ISPs are simply positioning themselves to offer the user another way of making that choice.

  4. Bc1609

    That speech in full

    Since it wasn't deemed necessary to link to the speech being reported..

    "My natural political instinct is that self-regulation and co-operation is the key to resolving these challenges, and I know the digital sector prides itself on doing just that. But Government stands ready to help in any way we can - as long as this does not erode consumer choice".

    Seems very sensible to me.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: That speech in full

      His instinct is for self regulation, is he totally oblivious to the history of online ads just getting so intrusive (and malware spewing) that people have no choice but block ads?

      Or is he just so free market infallibility fixated that he lives in his own unreality bubble?

      1. Bc1609

        Re: That speech in full

        I'm not entirely sure you understand what is meant by "instinct". It doesn't mean "an infallible, immutable policy"; it means that it is, well, his instinctive response. He makes this clear in the very next sentence.

        So, small-government principles, but making a point of not being absolutist about them, and being willing to step in if the players aren't willing to sort themselves out. Again, seems quite sensible.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: That speech in full

          "Willing to step in if the players aren't willing to sort themselves out."

          My computer, my rules.

          If you want your ads to display on it, don't be an asshole.

          The marketing lobby seem to think this is "standover tactics"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That speech in full

        "market infallibility fixated"

        How clumsy. Free market fundamentalism already has a name.

      3. KeithR

        Re: That speech in full

        "Or is he just so free market infallibility fixated that he lives in his own unreality bubble?"

        That.

      4. Tridac

        Re: That speech in full

        No, the idea is that citizens should be encouraged to learn how to make their own choices, not have nanny state decide what's good for them...

        1. Richard 81

          Re: That speech in full

          @Tridac: ...and they have. Their decision is to install Ad-blocking software.

          Unfortunately this doesn't solve the problem that the Minister of Fun is harping on about.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: That speech in full

      "I know the digital sector prides itself on [self-regulation and co-operation]"

      Belief in that, at least as it applies to the advertising sector, can't be described as sensible.

      At present we have the ASA as an advertising regulator, proof needed, if anything, that the advertising industry in the UK can't self-regulate. The ASA can only act after the event; good luck with using that as a means of cleaning up malware served up via an advertising network. And the ASA only has authority in the UK at best.

      Ad-blockers are no longer an option for people who don't want ads, they're another part of the PC user's security toolkit.

    3. KeithR

      Re: That speech in full

      "Seems very sensible to me"

      It's also bullshit. Self-regulation never, ever works.

    4. Michael Thibault

      Re: That speech in full

      "Self-regulation" works when there is a single self involved. Maybe. Things go considerably piriform when you've got multiple bodies interacting.

      >“Quite simply – if people don’t pay in some way for content,

      >then that content will eventually no longer exist,” he said. Most

      >people get this, he added.

      Implicitly, everything must acquire a price--which is so much derived free-market dogma. Strangely, there's a parallel between the statement above and the extortionate behaviour being ascribed to the ad-blockers who set themselves up as gate-keepers (ignoring that, increasingly, content is withheld until you can demonstrate that your shields are down relative to the ad-serving domains... sigh); what the quote above suggests is 'everybody will have to pay up, eventually, or the bunny dies--so, take your time, but adjust your attitudes accordingly'.

      Advertising hasn't always been the financing engine behind content.

      >“We need the whole advertising sector to be smarter. If we can..

      >avoid the intrusive ads that consumers dislike, then I believe there

      >should be a decrease in the use of ad-blockers,” he said.

      The problem can be seen as ad-blockers vs. advertising. However, at the root, it's about a lack of a micro-payments system. There's nothing inherently necessary about advertising online; it exists because an industry of self-serving parties has managed to sell the idea of their own necessity (and benefit) to the web-producing and web-consuming... and ads are now entrenched as a 'feature' of the web. Whether advertising-as-a-means-to-fund/pay-for-content does, in fact, pay for the content is not established--except, perhaps, in theory. There must, sure, be an alternative to advertising and probably the best way to bring one about is to make liberal use of ruthless, merciless ad-blockers.

  5. Steve Todd

    Like the TV companies

    The ratio of adverts to content has to be acceptable to the viewers, and they don't have to be forced to watch them.

    Until web sites figure that out (are you listening El Reg) there are many ad blockers on the market, at least some of which block ads completely. If users chose to accept whitelisted adds then they have at least some assurance that the advertiser has agreed to conditions based on that whitelisting.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Like the TV companies

      "there are many ad blockers on the market, at least some of which block ads completely"

      And not all of which are detectable by anti-adblock scripts.

  6. adnim Silver badge

    imho

    "Google, Microsoft and Amazon, and the notorious clickbait ad network Taboola."

    The above ad networks are blocked at the router, don't need adblock for them.

    “Quite simply – if people don’t pay in some way for content, then that content will eventually no longer exist,”

    Good... Provide content people are willing to pay for... don't copy/paste another site content into a page and fill that page with ads.

    “We need the whole advertising sector to be smarter. If we can avoid the intrusive ads that consumers dislike, then I believe there should be a decrease in the use of ad-blockers,”

    True a simple text description that is silent, does not popup/over and does not obscure content.

    “Government stands ready to help in any way we can - as long as this does not erode consumer choice," he said. Which he didn't have to - consumer choice clearly means being able to apply whatever end-user filtering you want. Doesn't it?

    Yes, and I always will, regardless of any government help interference.

    1. Rafael 1

      ... don't copy/paste another site content into a page and fill that page with ads.

      This. A million times this.

      I wonder how much more useful the Web would be if, e.g. Google filtered all pages published later than one with basically the same content using a plagiarism function. Would that be considered censorship?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ... don't copy/paste another site content into a page and fill that page with ads.

        "I wonder how much more useful the Web would be if, e.g. Google filtered all pages published later than one with basically the same content using a plagiarism function."

        They certainly used to at least make an attempt to do this with regard to SEO around 2004. I've long since lost touch with what's currently going on, but I'd imagine it's been refined since then, although doubtless there are plenty of workarounds such as making some alteration to the text.

        A page that was substantially a verbatim copy of one they'd scanned at an earlier date would be pushed way down the rankings to the point of invisibility. It was at best unpredictable and stood a fair chance of downgrading the original page, not the copy. With some of Googles tweaks to the search bot the whole site could be downrated if it had enough plagiarised text. A workaround if you needed to include copied text but didn't want to risk a penalty was to mark the section of text up as 'not to be scanned', IIRC using proprietary tags.

        To be fair ripped off text as clickbait is in my experience nothing like as bad as it was in search at least; links from other sites or ads is another matter.

    2. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: imho

      Don't forget that the Tories have a love for advertisers (Saatchi). As for content I don't see adverts on the Natural History Museum website, nor on Encyclopedia of Life, nor on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, nor on a whole range of other sites that offer quality contents.

      Its not my fault the publishers followed down the route of giving away their content online in return for 100th of the advertising cost that the print versions received. That they were scammed by the digiterati is no one's fault but their own.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: imho

        "Its not my fault the publishers followed down the route of giving away their content online in return for 100th of the advertising cost "

        The fundamental problem with online advertising is this:

        TV/Radio/Print media check all their ads for audience suitability before they get aired/shown, even if those adverts come to them via adbrokers.

        These same outfits (who live and die by their advertising revenue) abrogate all responsibilty for this in the online environment, farming it out to adbrokers whose only interest is maximising revenue and minimising expenses.

        Adbrokers have made and repeatedly broken agreements to vet what they provide, which is why banner ads have ended up serving popups, hostile java, nuisance video and malware time and time again. It's clear that they can't be trusted, yet the traditional media blindly trust them to provide adverts without checking they're appropriate or safe.

      2. BoldMan

        Re: imho

        > Don't forget that the Tories have a love for advertisers

        As do Labour and every other political party that campaigns for re-election - what is your point?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: imho

      "...consumer choice clearly means being able to apply whatever end-user filtering you want. Doesn't it?"

      Nope, not in his view.

      Paraphrasing Alice in Wonderland (ie Britain), consumer choice means whatever I want it to mean, said John Humpty Dumpty Wittingdale.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: imho

        "Nope, not in his view."

        In fact he seems to be rather ambivalent about it.

        ISTM that he's been lobbied into making a speech in favour of the advertising industry but realises that users have made up their minds and it would be politically stupid not to go with the flow. So he's started off by saying what the industry wants to hear but then put the users' viewpoint and some meaningless dribble about being ready to help. When push comes to shove he's got his marker in which will enable him to take the popular line without being accused of a U-turn.

  7. Efros

    Like it's worked before

    "My natural political instinct is that self-regulation and co-operation is the key to resolving these challenges,"

    Self-regulation works so well whenever there's shitloads of cash to be made by not regulating. Makes me think his political instinct is really not that good.

  8. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    There is one thing I don't get, here. Why is this any of the government's concern?

    There are rules for advertising already. There are rules for dodgy business practices already.

    If websites want to serve up intrusive adverts, that's their business. It is likely to reduce visitors to their site, and/or encourage ad blockers, but it's still a business decision for themselves. It doesn't harm anyone.

    Similarly, if a consumer wishes to use ad blocking software, what right has the govt to stop them? If the websites wish to put in place ad-blocker-blocker measures, similarly.

    I just do not see the benefit of the govt expressing any opinion on this matter.

    1. KeithR

      "There is one thing I don't get, here. Why is this any of the government's concern?"

      It's part of HMG's wider advocacy of "digital" as a channel: this is a round-the-houses admission that people need a better online experience than they currently get before they'll buy into "Digital By Default".

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
      Stop

      @Dr. Mouse

      Perhaps it's a "Down boy" signal to the online advertising industry. Having traced the industry flowcharts I think it's safe to say that getting a coordinated response is unlikely.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I just do not see the benefit of the govt expressing any opinion on this matter.

      That all depends on how many of the MPs, their families and/or family companies have shares in advertising agencies. It sounds as if this guy has quite a number.

    4. Tom 13
      Coat

      Re: I just do not see the benefit of the govt expressing any opinion on this matter.

      The government thanks you for informing us of this. A crack team of government psychologists has been dispatched to help you overcome this disability and advance our efforts at improving STEM uptake.

      Thank-you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

  9. SolidSquid

    I'll be honest, I don't know what it is that AdBlock Plus provides which they charge the ad networks for. If they're doing screening of the ads which go up though then that makes it perfectly sensible to have a gatekeeper who charges a small fee to cover costs and make a small profit. If it's literally just a whitelist though then that's a kinda shitty business model

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "I'll be honest, I don't know what it is that AdBlock Plus provides which they charge the ad networks for."

      Mostly: they don't charge. If you're not in the top 10% of ad networks and you promise to vet your adverts, you get a free pass. The charges which do get imposed (on the top adflinger networks, who've never signed into it anyway) seem to be quite small and mainly there to actually have a legally binding contract when the adflingers breach T&C.

    2. Patrician

      Adblock Plus's "Acceptable Ads Policy" (or something like that) only white lists ads that are within their guidlines as below:-

      https://adblockplus.org/acceptable-ads#criteria

      So they are trying to work with the advertising industry to reduce the intrusiveness of their splurge...

  10. Nevermind

    Choice

    Hold this thought Mr Whittingdale....I the consumer would like to retain a choice between surfing the net and surfing the ads, and all flavours in between. I therefore like to be able to enforce my particular choice on my browser and I don't need to read about how hard done by the ad industry is. Ad and Marketing departments....jog on.

  11. cybersaur
    FAIL

    Ad servers spew malware

    Ad servers have a rich history of infecting hapless site visitors with malware. Using ad blocking software has become a basic security measure. The advertisers have only themselves to blame for that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ad servers spew malware

      I am a Nigerian Prince, with more than ONE TRILLION GAZILLION DOLLARS to share around and cannot contact some people because nasty spam filters keep me from reaching my victimsˆHˆHˆH potential partners. Can I lobby a government official to cancel spam filters? I could possibly bribeˆHˆHˆH help him/her with TWO HUNDRED QUINTILLION PASTAFAZILLION DOLLARS.

      Doc. Hon. Arndom Anem, Esquire, KBE.

  12. Peter Simpson 1
    Happy

    My browser...my choice

    I understand that ad revenue helps support websites. However, I choose to decide, using an ad blocker, which ads I will see and which will be blocked. That is my decision to make.

    We won't even go into the proportion of ads that aren't relevant to me, those which are scammy or those ad brokers which act as conduits for malware.

    My browser, my computer and I will use whatever tools I like to decide what runs on it. If content providers choose not to allow me to view their content when I block some or all of the ads on their site, I'm absolutely fine with that.

    // run Linux

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    “Government stands ready to help in any way we can"

    Doesn't he know that the most terrifying sentence in the English language is "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help."?

    1. Snowy
      Mushroom

      Or it could have just said!

      “Government stands ready to tax you in any way we can"

  14. Len Goddard

    Paying

    “Quite simply – if people don’t pay in some way for content, then that content will eventually no longer exist,” he said. Most people get this, he added.

    True, but there is almost never an option to pay a small fee for an advert-free experience. Many sites which I use I would never visit without ad-blockers.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Paying

      Problem is, it's a double-edged sword. The business needs to at least net out as much from a pay service without ads as they get from one with them. I expect there are too few takers at the prices they could effectively offer for the service. They'd have to set up the payment service, secure it, secure your account, and ensure ONLY you were using your account. Not a web developer but they might have to stand up two websites.

      I'd like to see a micro-payments system take off. But it's a chicken and egg problem. Nobody will subscribe to a micro-payment system if there isn't enough content, and you can't get enough content without a large enough base of subscribers.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Paying

        Well I see two freetards don't like people telling the truth about them.

        Full disclosure: Even though I've started using AdBlock Plus (filters disabled), I white listed El Reg because the people working here still deserve to be paid.

    2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Paying

      I pay a few quid a month to use the telegraph website and they still have ads! So naturally enough I use an ad blocker.

      As always the advertisers want it all their own way, they want us to pay for content and still have us look at ads.

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    “We need the whole advertising sector to be smarter."

    The heat death of the Universe will arrive before the advertising sector gets smarter. And there's absolutely no point in him trying to either encourage self-regulation or legislate in the only region where he has any influence. Someone needs to explain to him that the first two Ws stand for world-wide.

    The only people who can regulate advertisers on this scale are the users and ad-blockers are the means they use.

  16. Archie Woodnuts

    So

    I guess some of the honourable members and their chums are losing out financially then? Diddums.

  17. Florida1920 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    I'll give up my ad-blocker

    When they pry it from my cold, dead PC!

  18. BongoJoe
    Megaphone

    Arse about tit

    When people whine that without advertising that there will be no content on the internet (which I assume that they mean 'the web') they seem to overlook the fact that a lot of this content was produced in order to gain revenue from advertising in the first place.

    If we lose this content this can only be an improvement and then we can get back to smaller and slimmer internet-web.

    As someone who produces my own site and don't infest it with third party adverts I am tired of being asked to include adverts thinly disguised as poorly written articles with no depth and, therefore, no content of worth to my readers.

    There is a whole culture of advertising clerks and agencies which produce nothing of value as far as I am concerned and if they have to find alternate work doing something useful: stacking shelves at Tesco on the midnight shift, for example, would be better for us all and the economy of us all.

    So, please. Let's get rid of this spurious content and let's get to the web in which there's nothing but relevant content and information. We may have moved on from the time of CompuServe but, then again, I don't recall many viruses being distributed then neither.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Arse about tit

      "We may have moved on from the time of CompuServe but, then again, I don't recall many viruses being distributed then neither." There was a small company of we volunteers constantly checking content and, later, links. Aside from the whole loss of traffic result, a lot of pride involved.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: I don't recall many viruses being distributed then neither.

      Then you should check yourself into a medical facility for failing memory. Viruses were as prevalent then as now. Likewise their virulence went from merely annoying to truly nasty (Jersualem). At least most of them these day don't actually kill your hardware (CIH).

  19. tkioz
    Trollface

    Something has to be really bloody obvious if a politician understands it.

    What annoys me even more than obnoxious adverts (that's anything more than a banner image or a text advert) is the websites that are now throwing up what I like to call "you thieving bastard" signs when they detect an active ad-blocker.

    I'm sorry but until you stop running videos in the background, with sound, and start hosting your own ads instead of using dodgy third party vendors who do who knows what with their code I'm not white listing you.

  20. Someone_Somewhere

    Self-regulation and co-operation is the key to resolving these challenges

    What, like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paedophile_Information_Exchange ?

  21. Someone_Somewhere

    Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket

    Adblockers don't extort money, Mafia-style extortionists do.

    Is he just a simpleton or does he have an undeclared vested interest in advertising?

    Or both?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket

      Read in a bit more, it is to do with ABP charging advertisers to go on an allowed list

      1. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket

        > Read in a bit more,

        I did - I always, without exception, read the entire article (or response) before I comment.

        > it is to do with ABP charging advertisers to go on an allowed list

        That's what I said, yes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Whitelisting... no thanks

        "Read in a bit more, it is to do with ABP charging advertisers to go on an allowed list"

        ABP can whitelist all they want,...other ad-blockers are available.... thanks uBlock

    2. Pseu Donyme

      Re: Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket

      Advertising itself is a protection racket in that it provides only a relative advantage: if you were the only one to advertise there would an advantage to competion, when everyone does there is just a cost (ultimately paid by the costomers, of course).

  22. David Nash Silver badge

    We don't owe them a business

    If the use of ad blockers results in less income from ads then the content producers will naturally turn to a different funding model. They don't need government help or anyone else's to figure that out.

    It's like putting ads on bus stops and then finding that they don't work particularly well so they put them somewhere else instead. And nobody would suggest that the bus stop ad people need special help in that case.

    An ad blocker is not special, it's just the same as me going to make a cup of tea during the adverts if I am watching a film on TV. Nobody is suggesting that I am being immoral or stealing content in that case by not watching the ads (at least I hope not!).

    It's a business model. If it doesn't work, change the model or you don't have a business (I am reminded of the argument where low-cost retailers claim they have to pay minimum wage, use zero-hours contracts or they would go out of business - in which case they don't have a business, do they?)

  23. The_H

    Actually, I very much hope that any content provider whose webpages serve up either dreadfully intrusive advertising or malware-ridden adverts *DO* go out of business, and the sooner the better. There are some very big publishers (and broadcasters) it will apply to :-)

    Until then... Adblock, Noscript & Ghostery it is.

    1. Chika

      Same here, though I normally add Privacy Badger on top.

  24. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

    Someone just out-haitched Oettinger

    Hectic activity to develop even stupidererer politicians in underground SourKraut labs. We'll be back!

  25. MJI Silver badge

    Internet Advertising needs regulating

    Any UK sites need to be vetted and if they pass be available for an optional whitelist for ad block software.

    Simple banner, I would allow them if relevant to the site, text ads the same. Simple 3 or 4 frame GIFs is not irritating.

    I used to allow them until the advertisers started their war.

    No I see none except on 3 forums.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Internet Advertising needs regulating

      Simple 3 or 4 frame GIFs is not irritating.

      Spend five minutes with one of those 2-frame 2-colour flashing bastards in your eyeline then come back and tell me that again.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Internet Advertising needs regulating

        Luckily the forums I use do not have one as they would be blocked.

        Nice using forums with vetted relevant advertising.

        "Oooh look I like that new wagon kit."

        "I didn't know they did that."

        And the advertising pays for hosting and staff!

  26. tekHedd

    If you only block systems that serve intrusive ads...

    you block all of them.

    I don't use blocklists, and only block sites that serve ads that are just obnoxious. Now I see no ads at all. Funny, that.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Name calling....

    So if "Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket'" what does that make the ad-slingers...oh wait I know... "low-life drug pushing-style scum"

  28. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Computer misuse Act?

    ISTM that advertisers are accessing your computer without your permission, so surely are committing a criminal offence in the UK?

    Or is it the case that accessing a web site is deemed to be giving implicit permission to load code onto your computer that has nothing to do with the content you were seeking to access?

  29. MalIlluminated

    Watching Rome Burn

    When this guy talks about a possibility for a need for regulation, I wonder if he understands that he's talking to the victims of crime. People who've had their personal property damaged and defaced, victims of identity theft, data theft, damage to business, extortion, I could go on and on. The advertiser is an accessory to a criminal act. The publisher chastising me for locking these criminals out of my house deserves to have their business bled dry.

  30. All names Taken
    Joke

    Point of order sirah?

    Do we have an elected government that tells the machinery and machinations of government what to do

    OR

    do we have an elected government that does what the machinery and machinations of government tell it what to do?

    Or more bluntly: is it dog wagging tail or tail wagging dog?

    Answers on a postcard to ... or by email to ...

  31. PigFucker

    Ridiculous

    I am sick to death of being hounded by advertising. Think about it, everywhere you go you are literally bombarded with advertising... it's literally everywhere. Get the bus, train, go to your shop, walk past a billboard. EVERYWHERE.

    I like that I can choose to block all advertising on the web, it's a joy to go to sites and actually read what I went there for, quickly, and not be surrounded by adverts.

    This guy is talking utter shit, the adblock companies block ads and they do a fucking good job. Combine it with a VPN and you can enjoy the web with no distraction. If we want to start talking about Mafia-style protection rackets, why don't we sit down round a table and discuss HSBC's laundering of drug cartels cash?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ridiculous

      "everywhere you go you are literally bombarded with advertising"

      I wish those advertisers would make sure their hoardings were nailed up properly.

    2. FF22

      Re: Ridiculous

      The only reason why ads are everywhere, because you and people like you don't want to pay for content and services. If you'd pay the full cost of online content and services, there would be no need for ads to pay for that instead of you.

      Now with ad blocking you're essentially killing that additional or exclusive source of revenue. So now you'll have no choice, but to pay for the content. Or said content will just not be made anymore. Just as the article stays.

      Ad blocking is stupid. But stupid people obviously can't realize that.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Ridiculous

        "The only reason why ads are everywhere, because you and people like you don't want to pay for content and services. If you'd pay the full cost of online content and services, there would be no need for ads to pay for that instead of you."

        I am sure there would be ads all the same. Not that this is not an interesting question.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Ridiculous

          Some subscription web sites still serve ads!

          I guess they like the Sky model.

          I do not have Sky, so was gobsmacked when I first went to a home that did, & "premium" sky channels themselves still had ads (I would have expected ads on C4, ITV etc where non Sky channel and so no ability to unbundle ads) , even though they were paying lots of money to Sky for premium channels.

      2. Esme

        Re: Ridiculous

        @FF22 - no - what's ridiculous is that we aren't given a choice of an ad-laden or an ad-free internet. Give me the choice and I'll vote with my purse, thank you very much.

        @El Reg - Yet Another Reminder that I, for one, would happily pay a reasonable sub to be able to access El Reg ad-free.

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Ridiculous

        The only reason why ads are everywhere, because you and people like you don't want to pay for content and services.

        Wrong. The reason why advertising is everywhere is because, on a human psychological level, advertising works. It influences people, against their own will, to make various choices, be they about what soap powder to buy, what politician to vote for, or which football team to support. The fact that it does this against our will and largely on a subconscious level is all the more reason to limit advertising, rather than limit the blocking of advertising. That's not even going into the problems with malicious advertising, as a malware vector, which is a very real problem.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ridiculous

          "The reason why advertising is everywhere is because, on a human psychological level, advertising works. It influences people, against their own will, to make various choices"

          Sort of. It works because, on a human psychological level, the advertisers can't comprehend that their monotonous advertising will piss off so many people that they lose potential customers. When you're so utterly convinced that the sun shines out of your arse rational thinking becomes impossible.

      4. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Ridiculous

        "Ad blocking is stupid. But stupid people obviously can't realize that."

        Yep... paying for content is the way forward, I pay Sky a small fortune each month and as a result I enjoy a completely advert free experience..... oh wait.....

        I would suggest that perhaps the stupidity being exhibited here is a bit closer to your home than you realize.

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ridiculous

        "The only reason why ads are everywhere, because you and people like you don't want to pay for content and services."

        Citation needed.

  32. Someone_Somewhere

    It's all fun and games

    until somebody sues a site for the injurous side-effects resultant from the epileptic fit induced by the adverts they were involuntarily exposed to.

    On a different note, the ads as ads aren't my concern.

    It's

    a) the concommitent invasion of privacy - in return for free content, I'm happy to view ads but that does /not/ mean I agree to being tracked by a third party with whom I have, and desire, no relationship.*

    b) the all too great risk of malware.

    Unless, and until, I receive a cast-iron guarantee, with associated financial penalty clause(s)**, that viewing a site without an adblocker will no negative impact upon my life, I will continue to use an adblocker and any other passive anti-spyware/malware solutions I choose.

    * the website in question is not a stock-exchange and no-one is empowered to nakedly sell me (short /or/ long).

    ** i.e. the site owner(s) legally accept(s) financial responsibility for any harm/distress caused to me and/or my equipment. They can pass that cost on to whichever third party/parties they like or swallow it themselves, whatever they they want, I don't care - but they /will/ recompense me to /my/ satisfaction.

    1. Ropewash

      Re: It's all fun and games

      I think perhaps a look at the old model would be in order.

      Back when websites hosted ads on their own machines.

      Sure a website can run all the ads at me that it wants...

      ...provided THEY download the things, execute the code on their servers and serve up the result as an in-page image.

      I'm not against seeing ads when they are properly placed and somewhat relevant. I AM against having some dodgey bit of scripting hijack my browser to haul in junk from some jerkoff spam company(s), another few scripts to track me for google so they'll have a better idea what brand of running shoe I'm never going to buy, and 40 other scripts that do nothing but make me wonder why, when I click my no-script icon, that the list goes off the bottom of my screen.

      So until the websites trying to do this to me do it to themselves instead and let me view the result in a safe in-page manner I'll be sticking with my adblock stack.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all fun and games

      "...I'm happy to view ads but that does /not/ mean I agree to being tracked by a third party with whom I have, and desire, no relationship."

      I think when the dust has settled a little over adblocking this is what will turn out to be the bigger problem for the industry. The privacy argument may look at the moment as if it's principally about government surveillance, but the slicing, dicing and selling on of private data by businesses is a strong subtext that's rapidly gaining ground, and in the end will probably be the more compelling and intractable argument against ad industry practice.

      I'd consider allowing some well behaved low key advertising, but I absolutely will not give an inch over my total opposition to tracking, profiling, selling of my data etc without transparency and fully informed consent.

  33. grumpyoldeyore
    WTF?

    Ad Blocker, What Ad Blocker ?

    Back in January, a couple of regional newspaper sites that I visit to keep in touch with areas, friends and relatives, started putting up pop-ups and diabling content, because I was using an ad blocker. This came as something of a surprise, because it I've never installed an ad blcoker. Turned out out that Firefox's default 'do no track' setting was enough to somehow translate to 'Ad Block + installed'. Somewhere in the middle of February, this behaviour was itself disabled, once again allowing me access to the sites. Not being a web guru (low level HW is my bag), I'm none the wiser.

  34. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Cats and rats

    Some Nordic countries got rid of the TV licence all together, no more "cats" searching for "rats". Just read all these comments, damn funny stuff if you think about it. The national "BBC" gets its money like the public roads.

  35. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    How about...

    All advertisements (in any form) have to be pre-vetted, by a regulatory agency, at the advertiser's expense (+x%, a nice little tax earner...). Any found to be unsuitable are not allowed to be used.

    Any advertisers found to be spewing malware (intentionally or otherwise) are prosecuted and given a heavy fine.

    In addition to the usual ban on offensive and subliminal advertising, the following would not be allowed:

    - Flashing or animated adverts

    - pop-ups / pop-unders

    - full page advertising

    - 'click-through' advertising

    - deceptive (i.e. pretending to be a computer error message)

    Obviously, this would be unworkable, as it would require a global effort, and global cooperation, so instead, I'll just continue to use an ad blocker to remove intrusive and malicious advertising from my browser. Your move advertising industry.

  36. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Meh

    Pay for content...

    You know I'm happy to pay for quality content if it means I don't have to endure adverts as well BUT Rupert has taught the world that people will pay through the nose for mediocre content and STILL put up with adverts.

    So I'll take the stuff I don't have to pay for and use an ad blocker as long as those ads are loud and intrusive and for the stuff I pay for I'll *never* turn off the ad blocker.

  37. Jess

    Register Ads

    I don't use ad block, but I do use noscript (and self destructing cookies).

    I get non intrusive ads, which I'm quite happy with.

    If I enabled js would it be horrible here?

    1. Someone_Somewhere

      Re: self destructing cookies

      That's just locking the door after the burglars have long since made off with everything of value.

      CookieMonster prevents them from landing in the first place.

      You can set a default policy* and then selectively modify it on a case by case basis: whitelist, accept from domain or (subdomain only), accept temporarily, accept session cookies, delete upon changing policy, delete upon refreshing page, delete upon leaving domain, delete upon exit, view individual cookies/by site/by domain (or subdomain).

      After NoScript and RequestPolicy. it's the first addon I install.

  38. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Unhappy

    A look into the future

    The present situation is highly unstable. It can't be long before the majority of users are blocking ads. The advertisers, and the sites that depend on advertising revenue, aren't simply going to say "It was good while it lasted" and walk away.

    The first change is likely to be a switch to serving ads from the same domain as the main content. It's a lot more fiddly than simply pulling ads from content networks direct to the client, but with computers, once a fiddly thing is solved, it stays solved. This will make ad blocking a lot less deterministic, especially if sites avoid always serving ads from distinctive paths.

    If blocking still succeeds, the next step is likely to be the development of ways to embed ads as binary content in HTML pages. I'm not sure how feasible this is at the moment, though it's already possible to embed base-64 encoded images and fonts. If this happens it will be nearly impossible to selectively block content.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019