back to article We’re not holding biz to ransom, says pay to play ad-blocking outfit

Far from killing the advertising industry, ad blockers are saving it from itself, says the company behind AdBlock Plus. Eyeo was responding to headline-grabbing remarks by Culture Minister John Whittingdale earlier this week. Whittingdale didn’t name names, but compared ad blocking software companies who whitelist advertisers …

  1. a well wisher

    "and would be happy to engage in any discussions as to how we can continue to better the consumer’s online experience"

    As an Ad-Blocker ? - Just block ALL the adds !!!

    1. tmTM

      They won't ever stop the worst offenders anyway, but I imagine for good PR they have to at least pay lip-service to the idea.

  2. Len Goddard

    Block me

    If a site objects to me using an ad-blocker, it has the option of refusing to serve me the page. A few do that - it is their right. I can count on the fingers of my left foot the number of times I've turned off my ad-blocker to actually see the content.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Block me

      The sites that do that are just pointing out that that they have nothing of any value to display to the public, other than ads that is.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The industry is ripe for a new google

    When google added ads for the first time up everyone was happy because it served high value relevant unobtrusive ads which did not eat 90% of the resource of your PC.

    One of the reasons why it bulldozed everyone out of the way was exactly that - its ads rocked and the lusers actually did click on them.

    That continued until it ate double-click resulting in a fatal brain rotting inf*cktion. The admen which Google was effectively driving out of a job took over and destroyed the fundamental basis for Google's competitive edge. The math based algos for ad relevance were replaced by crap. When that happened my revenue from my website went down by a factor of 10+ times in a matter of a few months so I just decided to throw in the towel. The unobtrusive ads were replaced by utter tripe same as double-click was serving pre-aquisition and which it was losing market share on. And so on.

    In reality - it is not Google who acquired DoubleClick. DoubleClick acquired Google and Google is the new DoubleClick. That actually means that if someone comes with an ad + search platform which apes the one which practically drove DoubleClick into the ground pre-aquisition, the market will be ripe for the taking once more. What goes around, comes around.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'not Google who acquired DoubleClick'...

      +1-upvote... Wow, food for thought, for sure!!

      There was definitely a catalyst or event inside Google that changed them from less-evil to full-on 'despicable-me'! The media likes to point to the IPO, but why not the DC buy-out... It actually makes more sense. Google got bit by the Dracula of ad-slingers and then turned into a worse ad-vamp. No doubt about it, Double-click from inception were the Monsanto of personal info surprers ()...

  4. Lysenko

    AdBlock+ is basically a corrupt alarm company that is prepared to let burglars into your house for a suitable fee so long as they don't steal too much.

    There's no need to panic though. uBlock Origin, Ghostery & Widgetblock. I can't remember the last time I saw an online ad. I only don't activate NoScript because my own sites wouldn't work properly if I did.

    This isn't a new phenomenon. When there was still some value in printed IT magazines (and before everyone was so paranoid) I used to take a stanley knife to the newsagents when buying "Computer Shopper". One quick slice down the spine and the ads never left the shop. This is an arms race that the ad spewers cannot win. Not this side of Kubrick's "Clockwork Orange" anyway.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Add privacybadger to the list

      1. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: Privacy Badger

        I /want/ to like it because it's EFF and I wouldn't be without HTTPSEverywhere, but I've never been able to get it to work - it does nothing at all and I've always ended up removing it and going back to tried and trusted addons from before :(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Remove Ghostery from the list. They have dodgy data collection practices.

      uBlock Origin is more than a low RAM adblocker. It's a general purpose blocker which can tackle ads, trackers, social buttons, really anything that a list exists for.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Surely they are only collecting what would be harvested by the blocked original?

        If they pass it on, well there we go, however the end result is I don't get a page full of distraction, and it may make life difficult to those organizations intent on sending bits of info to third parties

      3. Cynical Observer
        Thumb Up

        +1 for PrivacyBadger though people should be aware that

        Because Privacy Badger is primarily a privacy tool, not an ad blocker. Our aim is not to block ads, but to prevent non-consensual invasions of people's privacy because we believe they are inherently objectionable. We also want to create incentives for advertising companies to do the right thing. Of course, if you really dislike ads, you can also install a traditional ad blocker.

        Agree with removing Ghostery - try Disconnect instead. One of its highest accolades was the Google blocked it from the play store as it trashed their revenue stream. :-)

        1. Someone_Somewhere

          Re: Disconnect instead

          No, use both - belt AND braces /guarantee/ no embarrassment in the trouser department.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Not available for Safari AFAIK

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thoughts on Blur?

        1. John Tserkezis

          "Thoughts on Blur?"

          Blur is an advertising delivery system.

          No really, it creates ad pop-ups. The only way it ended up on the ad-block bandwagon is that the code *used* to be an adblocker. Not anymore.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Thanks I was unsure about that plugin.

      5. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: dodgy data collection practices

        Just disable Ghostrank - simples.

      6. Lysenko

        They have dodgy data collection practices.

        Not with GhostRank disabled (as far as I'm aware).

    3. HarryBl

      You can turn the whitelist off in Adblock and see no ads at all.

    4. F0rdPrefect

      AdBlock+ is basically a corrupt alarm company ...

      ... who cons the companies paying to be let through, because they give me the option to accept their approved adds, or not.

      I don't.

      If that option went away, so would AdBlock Plus.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Even the worst adblockers run a better protection racket than governmental regulators whose job it is.

    That said, just burn the web all down......

    P.S. that's a highly simplistic diagram of the ad industry... tip of the iceberg.

  6. PNGuinn

    Here's an idea

    For the attention of:

    The Minister of Being Unable to P**s in a Straight Line Even When Sober*

    How about some new legislation: (You'll love this bit - it'll make it seem you're Doing Something Useful (TM).)

    It becomes a severe offence punishable by Very Heavy Fines (TM) AND a substantial prison sentence to fling an ad which:

    a. Contains any malware (definition to be decided by a poll of el Reg commentards - down guys and gals - wait your turn.

    b. Is clickbait for (a) or any attempt to gather ANY personal information.

    c. Places, attempts to place or is clickbait for ANY 3rd party cookie.

    d. Causes any harm whatsoever to the receiving computer or any connected system, eg crashing the browser or interfering with a printer (eg wasting ink).

    e. Requires for its display the use on the receiving computer or its associated systems of any software known or likely to be known to have security vulnerabilities.

    d. Causes the user of the recieving computer, without their express permission, to incur any extra expense or delay.

    e. Causes or could cause said user, or those around him/her/it any distress.

    f. Does not have clearly within itself a continuous clear display of an accurate audit trail for the ad (similar to the health warnings on a fag packet).

    g. "Ad flinger" to be defined as the whole food chain including from the source of the ad to the ad calling website, all to be totally responsible for the whole chain.

    h. Telcos to be responsible for enforcing blocking offending ip addresses and aiding law enforcement. Cost to be borne out of fines. System to be self financing.

    That might fix it.

    *to be filmed by an arts council funded film unit while running a 100 yard sprint through a the gift shop of a similarly funded museum or gallery.**

    ** Necessary condition to identify appropriate Minister among all the other p**s artists in the gubbermint.

    *** El REG - we still need that "It's not funny" or "not a joke" icon. And a Welsh sheep in a vacuum icon. And how about a "government minister nailed to the floorboards" Icon?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea

      "That might fix it."

      I'm glad you put on the joke alert. The entire chain other then the user's computer and the IP network leading to it could be outside HMG's jurisdiction. The only point at which the user's computer can realistically be defended is at the computer itself. I doubt the ISPs would be able to perform DPI on all the traffic and even if they could it would require MiM of HTTPS sites - not, of course, a problem with our beloved elReg.

    2. moiety

      Re: Here's an idea

      You can't piss in a straight line because gravity. Unless you're facing directly downwards. Or in space.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The ad industry as presently constituted might just as well face facts. The party's over. We're just waiting fro everyone to collect their coats.

  8. A Ghost

    I think I'm in the minority

    But I'm just getting used to the idea of life without internet. Yup! The unthinkable.

    It's possible for me to do this, but very difficult of course.

    For the rest of you, with working lives and families, I don't see how you can possibly disconnect. You would be ruined!

    The totalitarian regime just keeps bringing out laws and passing them all by itself like a tinpot dictator (which of course they are no better than), and everyone moans a bit then goes back to business. Diminished but back to business. No one complains, especially not the techies who understand far better than everyone else the implications of all this.

    I suppose you don't have much time to protest, and you have jobs to worry about too. You know you are being tracked. You know the enemy is ruthless. In fact, they are only the enemy because they painted the normal population as such. Overnight they turned us all into legitimate targets and enemy combatants. If we are the enemy to them, what does that make them to us?

    So I understand. It's not easy. I'm really hoping I can pull the cable in a few months just as I get all my main computers working as I want, and backed up, offline.

    How many of you can say you are that angry? Not many I would wager. There is no way out for you now. The government could pass a law to make everyone who has an internet connection, use a passport/driving license/birth cert. to register, with weekly checkups on YOU, yes YOU, personally (got to keep creating those non-jobs), and there is not a damn thing you could do about it.

    They have already gone cock-a-hoop the last week or two after bringing in the snoopers charter that you all fought so hard for years to stop. They just went and did it anyway. Not many of you seem too vocal or bothered by that. A bit miffed, but that's it. Now they are like a kid in a candy store: Make it illegal for setting up accounts without id, jail people who do not make others feel all fluffy inside, spy on you and pass around the readers wives shots to the lads. Oops, they already were doing that one since the internet was invented, they just didn't admit it then, as they do no admit now.

    In short, they can do what the hell they please, and there is not a damn thing you will even try to do about it. You don't even acknowledge the severity of the situation, the rubicon we have just crossed. I read in the independent today that: Everyone knows they have no privacy now and accepts it! Really. I suppose you are right. Keep telling us we have no privacy. Keep telling us we accept it. Pretty soon we all will.

    These are the good days. In the not too distant future, your medical records will be made available to that council worker you pissed off because you complained about not having your rubbish collected for two months. In fact, they can already check your medical records. The laws in existence today right now are far worse and more encompassing than anything the stasi dreamed about. It is full on 1984. Yet they haven't finished yet. They haven't even started.

    We live in a world where the council (or was it the police) sent a copy of a letter out to every person who had had a complaint made against them (anonymously of course) naming the people that had made the complaint. Wowza.

    This government has never taken security seriously. They are incompetent. Worse than that, they act with impunity not even wanting or pretending to be competent. And now they have started a dual-propaganda campaign vis a vis adblockers and the bbc license. It's a full on fucking psychological assault.

    Face the facts. It's game over. You DO NOT own your computer. You WILL have ads and malware served to you or you WILL be criminalised. You are NOT allowed to disconnect from the net. I can see a world pretty soon where it will be illegal to NOT have an internet connection, with a camera installed that is permanently ON. Those that use black pvc tape to cover the lense will be rounded up, and asked just what they hell they thought they were playing at.

    They already got away with putting RATs on to children's laptops, and even admitted viewing them naked in their bedrooms. They got away with it, because they are allowed to spy on our children in the nude, but we are not allowed to take preventative measures so we don't have to spend the next fucking 8 hours cleaning up our compos and restoring backups.

    Every day I have to run a script (kindly offered by a fellow commentard) that blocks the windows update service. I've already turned it off but oh no, it doesn't work like that, does it. My machine grinds to a halt, the cpu goes through the roof, my fan starts going, my ram drops and browsers crash, all because fucking microsoft have planted malware on my machine and I can not get rid of it. I'm really going to have to spend a full few days sorting this out.

    Keep in mind, that even though I'm not clever enough to be a 'real programmer', I can build systems both hardware and software. I'm no stranger to many of the sysinternals tools, and I run an nLited install of winxp that is only about 500MB large with nearly every service disabled that you can imagine, and some you can't (if you hadn't looked). I've delved into the deepest parts of the windows os, even downloading a document on undocumented api calls, and reading it. I just gave another going over to Cristina Cifuentes' PhD thesis on Decompilation - a bloody good read before bedtime I can tell you. I studied reverse engineering for many years, as well as computer programming (I failed at both in the end).

    But I am busy juggling personal crises with family crises - my head is just not in the right place to have to deal with this shit right now. And still they come... whole battallions...

    Days out of my life, just because I object to having my computer raped. I run the script, and in Process Hacker I can see the svchost.exe drop gigabytes - sneaky buggers don't even tell you what service it is, they wrap it in svchost - fuckers - took me hours to figure out. If that kind person here at El Reg had not shared that script, I really don't know how I could have fixed it so quickly.

    I just did a scan with Super Anti Spyware which is more of a tracking cookie remover than anything else these days, and it found 60-70 tracking cookies on my machine since the last few days. I keep cookies on though I browse sandboxed usually, on this laptop anyway. The fact that companies are allowed to create these things and plant them surreptitiously on people's machines should be a crime in itself. It is a moral crime, and I believe that should be reflected with a fully fledged law giving perpetrators hard prison time. Let's not get too daily mail about it and not send them to the gulags just yet, but it would be nice to have it as an option.

    This is a subject that is not up for debate with me, and I am heartened to find others that feel the same way. Even though we have been labeled militants, it is only because we are a minority so it's easy to name call. We just want some privacy and not be harassed. But they have made laws to invade our privacy and they have made laws that make us unable to stop the harassment.

    I'm not sure mankind is going to get past this internet thing. This has to come to serious blows. If you take away people's right to sovereignty and the right to say 'no', then you are already a slave.

    It was a fellow commentard here who said: The game was over ten years ago. We've been in a totalitarian state since then. So I know that a lot of you do get it. But what I don't get is, if so many of you get it, why do you at least not acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

    This is happening now. To you as well as me. We are all the victims in this.

    I hope I don't come across as rude or insulting, or even passive aggressively trying to stir things up and make you all form a protest in the street or god forbid start writing letters to your MP. Fat lot of good it would do. We are doomed. We all know it now. I'm just genuinely curious why there are so few people in uproar over this. Is there no length they can push you to, where you will not react?

    It's going to be really hard coming off the internet. I won't be able to read the register anymore. Then again you won't have to read my inane dribblings, so that balances out for the good of humanity I suppose.

    Adblockers, government, microsoft, google, apple, the whole fucking lot of them are in this together and have designated us the enemy. I'm not sure if that is quite understood yet, or if it is understood but people are just too scared to talk about it.

    I see the register as one of the last bastions of freedom. I doubt it will be around in five years time, certainly not in its current form. I've learned some amazing things here from foes and friends alike, but I can tell you now, I will not be able to write these words as I am now in five years time. So I am making the most of my freedom for now.

    Ok, I'll shut up now. I'm boring myself. I just wrote over 4000 words in the last few hours for El Reg and I don't want to outstay my welcome. Hopefully I haven't been too much of a nuisance. At least you always had the option to 'opt out' of reading my crap, anyway...

    1. Moonunit

      Re: I think I'm in the minority

      Ah, Ghost ... you echo my frustrations and irritations. Also uinviting myself from the webbiness slowly!

  9. A Ghost

    This is the script to STOP THE WINDOWS UPDATE hijacking your machine....

    ...for a few hours till it automatically starts up again. You can turn it off in services, but as most of you know it respawns itself anyway. This is a quick hack to temporarily regain control of your machine if you are doing something important (like watching cat videos).

    net stop wuauserv

    net stop bits

    rd /s /q %windir%\softwaredistribution

    net start bits

    net start wuauserv

    wuauclt.exe /detectnow

    I just name it "winUpdateStop.bat" after pasting it into a text file (for you not so techy guys and gals), but you can name it what you want with the .bat extension at the end. Just 'Save as' from notepad to your desktop and run as administrator (unless you are one of those naughty naughty people that run full admin all the time, connected to the net [like the majority of you]).

    Slightly OT, forgive me. I'm sure at least one person will find this handy. And thanks again to the Register commentard who wrote it. This stuff is voodoo to me and I stand on the shoulders of giants. If imitation is the sincerest form or flattery, then replication must be even better....

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: This is the script to STOP THE WINDOWS UPDATE hijacking your machine....

      or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb

      I gave up fighting W10. I see no reason why I should run scripts or edit registry entries to stop it. I don't want a 3G download over my phone, but via my home connection? No problem. All *my* work and documents happen under Linux. I run nearly all my games under Steam on Linux, but I also have a Windows install which has no other purpose than to run Steam in case I have the urge to run some legacy games. As a GUI, W10 beats W8 by far and quite frankly, they are welcome to scan my documents directory and grab telemetry which should tell them I have no documents and I do nothing important with their OS, not even any significant web browsing.

      If me having a free copy of their OS so that I can run some legacy games makes them feel important, bully for them, free W10 is simply giving me a longer time to phase them out of my life. I have a Work VM running W10... well, I get to look hip at the office and it does appear to be much faster than (I suspect a borked-by-failed-updates) W7. W7 Ultimate transforms to W10 Pro. Does it slurp? Dunno. In a corporate world which seems to accept the Cloud and MS' activities, I've given up caring. Again, not my data and personal stuff happens via the host OS (thanks Suse!).

      So long, and thanks for all the fish.

  10. David Roberts Silver badge

    Proportinate response?

    Government is dependant on the big ad agencies.

    Just look back over who runs the election campaigns and who get honours afterwards.

    Consider also the FTSE100 firms which rely on advertising.

    Given that, it doesn't pay to totally piss off the ad agencies because of the influence they yield.

    Users are adopting add blockers in droves.

    Soon they will either be banned or circumvented.

    So placing an ad filter on your device is a compromise which might work.

    Oh, we don't mind YOUR adverts. Just the ones from the bad people.

    Is it a protection racket? Could well be. Is it worth the price? Probably for a little while.

    The check on the white list sellers is that there are always total ad blockers out there.

    They have to please both the user and the advertiser.

  11. Mark Simon

    Plan B

    What the Internet needs is a more intelligent revenue stream. Ads are a model that sort of worked in Free TV, but are clearly showing signs of age. On the Internet, we have the technology to block them, and there is an increasing expectation that we should be able to.

    I’m lucky. I can live without sites that force ads on me. I’m happy to pay a subscription for the good ones and to abandon the mediocre ones.

  12. Anguilla

    Not forgetting "Ad-Muncher" free version v4.94

    I've been using "Ad-Muncher" free version for ages since the original pay-for version was offered for free on website.

    Watching the Bull icon at the bottom of the screen swallowing crappy adverts is most satisfying! Burp !!

    I include AdBock Plus to my armoury too. Both running all the time.

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