back to article Ad-blocker blocking websites face legal peril at hands of privacy bods

Websites that detect ad-blockers to stop their users from reading webpages could be illegal under European law. Alexander Hanff, a privacy campaigner and programmer, says he has received a letter from the European Commission confirming that browser-side web scripts that pick out advert blockers access people's personal data ( …

  1. Kev99 Bronze badge

    HOORAY! Let's hope the EU sees the light. I doubt the US ever will since congress is owned by business. And Yahoo is one of the worse offender on this.

    1. Manolo
      Thumb Down

      Re: Hooray

      You really think EU is not owned by business?

      1. AndyS

        @Manolo

        > You really think EU is not owned by business?

        Compare the situation for consumers, employees, parents, people with an illness, passengers, etc (ie "people") between the EU and the US, and there is virtually nothing in common. Sure, the EU may consult with business too, but the US is simply in a different league from the rest of the world when it comes to treating their own citizens as a disposable resource.

        1. Chemical Bob

          Re: @Manolo

          "the US is simply in a different league from the rest of the world when it comes to treating their own citizens as a disposable resource."

          We're not as bad as China.

          Yet.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Manolo

            That's only because of litigation.

            However, litigation only works for small mostly insignificant cases.

            For the rest we know how things go. (see "Snowden")

      2. Halfmad

        Re: Hooray

        I'm going to be honest, no I don't. Well maybe they are but there are SO MANY PEOPLE involved in EU legislation that it'd be incredibly difficult to buy them all, unlike national parliaments, you know the ones which are properly democratic.

        Arguably an unintended benefit of EU membership.

      3. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Hooray

        "You really think EU is not owned by business?"

        Nope - it's an improvement on the American model - instead it's owned by corrupt and unelected bureaucrats...

    2. msknight Silver badge

      I don't think they've seen anything. It just shifts the goalposts. If they have the right to block you after you decline to give your consent for the adblocker detector to run, then nothing much changes.

  2. mIRCat
    Pint

    Click here to view this title.

    Good on him! Someone buy the man a pint!

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Click here to view this title.

      Good on him! Someone buy the man a pint!

      Skinflint! How about a yard glass?

      1. jason 7

        Re: Click here to view this title.

        C'mon, he might live in London! £5 a pint!!!!

        1. Alexander Hanff 1

          Re: Click here to view this title.

          I live in Poland so £5 will buy a barrel lol :) (of Vodka)

          1. ZootCadillac

            Re: Click here to view this title.

            I was gonna say Alex. I'd buy you several pints but you buggered off to Poland. Let me know if you need to come back to Wilmslow for the ICO any time this year. We'll sort something out :)

            And you can drive the cars, I promise ;)

            1. Alexander Hanff 1

              Re: Click here to view this title.

              Not sure when I will be in the North again - I am hosting a privacy event in London on 29th but I am totally booked up travelwise for the next 2-3 months speaking at events and having meetings on adblocking.

          2. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: Click here to view this title.

            "I live in Poland so £5 will buy a barrel lol :) (of Vodka)"

            No doubt with product labels in Braille, and also certified as a high performance motor fuel...

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Click here to view this title.

          £5/pint. Still worth it for this. Get him a keg.

          1. Chika
            Pint

            Re: Click here to view this title.

            If you are going down that route, just buy him a brewery!

  3. Adam 1 Silver badge

    Maybe they can ask the user's permission on a panel that obscures the contents. It could ask as an automatically playing video that can't be skipped, tripling the page load time. This has two advantages.

    1. It would suitably annoy those running ad blockers whilst complying with the law.

    2. Those not running ad blockers would be able to tell the difference from their usual experience of websites.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Didn't they already do that?

      Google has a panel covering most of the screen with some boring (already "agreed" to it dozens of times) privacy policy, which is hard to scroll and agree on my 7" tablet. It's funny how sites assume you'll keep your cookies until 2038, instead of clearing on-exit.

      Anyway, I love it when EU law makes privacy invading yanks pee their pants.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Google has a panel covering most of the screen with some boring

        I read it and WOULD NEVER EVER Agree. It's an EVIL document.

        So I block google cookies. Panel only comes if cookies are allows.

        Also I block domains that ONLY serve ads.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Google has a panel covering most of the screen with some boring

          Mine is kept under control by HOSTS and greasemonkey scripts

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      @Adam 1. Could you explain your second point a little more clearly.

      However, I think you've missed something from the article. It would require the site to ask every visitor to ask permission for their browser to be probed. In the interim either the ad-blocking visitor gets to read the page or, if the page is obscured my any means nobody, ad-blocking or not, probe-consenting or nor, gets to read the contents. This means that the site manages to piss off everyone, including those of whom the site might approve.

      It also has an interesting side effect. It would present the page authors the problem of explaining why it wishes to probe the user's browser. If they don't give a clear explanation then it will look a little sinister to naive users and if they do it alerts such users to the existence of these things called ad-blockers which they might then investigate and find to be a good idea.

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Sure. It was self evidently a bit too subtle a joke for a few folk here who probably thought that I was advocating against ad blockers.

        The point was that they could make the process of presenting the question to probe (all that they are required to do) just as annoying as the ads themselves. Point 2 was that such an experience wouldn't be noticeably worse than what one is subjected to without an ad block installed. Ergo, the only folk who would actually suffer would be those used to an ad free experience.

  4. DryBones

    So...

    That's most of France nicked, then.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: So...

      So what? They'll stick it on the ignore pile like they do with everything else.

  5. FF22

    Bull

    The question in the query has grossly misstated how ad blocker detectors work, and the answer was constructed on that false basis. As such it does not say anything about actual anti ad blockers, only about the imaginary ones that do not exist outside of the mind of the guy submitting the query.

    Real anti ad blockers do not store any kind of scripts or information on user side. Also, detecting the presence of an ad blocker obviously is not a personally identifiable information, and as such is not protected by the EU directive.

    1. jarfil

      Re: Bull

      That is not correct.

      Anti blockers work by checking whether the user has seen some ad or received some file, effectively retrieving the information stored in the user's cache about whether that file has been downloaded or not.

      This is, they store and retrieve information on the user's computer without the user's prior consent.

      1. Craigness

        Re: Bull

        Users consent when they visit the website. I didn't want to see your comment, but I took the risk when I came here.

        If the information if not personally identifiable, is not stored, and is not used to track people then why should it be illegal?

        1. Chika

          Re: Bull

          Users consent when they visit the website. I didn't want to see your comment, but I took the risk when I came here.

          But do they?

          I've seen this excuse used in so many places. You don't actually get a choice as the damage is often done before you even get a chance to say "no", often because you don't realise that the damage is being done. People get upset by drive-by malware or its threat yet this sort of thing is not really much different.

          1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

            Re: Bull

            But do they?

            I've seen this excuse used in so many places. You don't actually get a choice as the damage is often done before you even get a chance to say "no"

            Nail on the head.

            Generally, you visit a site because the page you're browsing to looks like it might contain the information you're currently after. But, until you visit, you have no idea what the "cost" will be - what JS will run, what third party trackers they use etc.

            Once you've found out (and most users never do, because they don't look), it's too late, because it's already happened. All you can do is not visit in future, limiting it to one occurence (for that site). Which means it isn't anywhere close to informed consent and doesn't count.

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Bull

            But do they?

            No, because the consent must be both explicit and informed. So, websites cannot assume that consent has been given but must explicitly inform users and obtain their explicit agreement. NB. there explicit exemptions for things like session cookies. The law isn't some Luddite attempt to break the web but it does make spying on users a little more difficult.

        2. Alexander Hanff 1

          Re: Bull

          No they don't.

      2. FF22

        Re: Bull

        "Anti blockers work by checking whether the user has seen some ad or received some file, effectively retrieving the information stored in the user's cache about whether that file has been downloaded or not."

        Wrong. The cache isn't involved. Neither is any information stored. Actually, if anything, the opposite is true. Ad blocking is detected by some "information" (element of the page) not being present on the client side, because of, you know, it getting blocked.

        1. Alexander Hanff 1

          Re: Bull

          The javascript file itself is stored and is illegal. Period.

          1. FF22

            Re: Bull

            "The javascript file itself is stored and is illegal."

            You realize, that no matter how many times you repeat the same false statement, it will not become magically true, don't you? It will stay just as false as it was for the first time. The only thing you can prove by keeping that up is your incompetence and thickheadness.

            I understand you think you landed something big that will make you famous. But you didn't, and it will only make you infamous, for being the clueless populist who couldn't even get the basics rights. You will be the Donald Trump of internet cookies.

            The sooner you realize this the less damage your reputation will take. And, trust me, it already took A LOT in the eyes of most competent persons.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Bull

          "Anti blockers work by checking whether the user has seen some ad or received some file, effectively retrieving the information stored in the user's cache about whether that file has been downloaded or not."

          Wrong. The cache isn't involved. Neither is any information stored. Actually, if anything, the opposite is true. Ad blocking is detected by some "information" (element of the page) not being present on the client side, because of, you know, it getting blocked.

          AFAICS these are two statements of the same thing.

          However ultimately neither my view, nor yours, nor Mr Hanff's will be decisive. The decisive view may well be that of a court. Do you intend to provide expert evidence?

          1. FF22

            Re: Bull

            "AFAICS these are two statements of the same thing."

            No, because anti ad blockers - as already said - do not examine your cache, do not query the list of installed extensions/plugins (contrary to what our "expert" says), etc. And because they do not store or transmit that information anywhere inside or outside of the browser. They simply do nothing that the EU DPD would require to ask prior consent for.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bull

        Does that not make image-preloading scripts illegal too? After all, they check to see if an image has been downloaded, presumably without permission.

        Going further, it also covers any site that uses jQuery and $(document).ready(), and - going further - <body onload="">

    2. R Soles

      Re: Bull

      The letter from the European Commission to Mr Hanff talks about ALL information, not just personally identifiable information.

      They even put it in bold to make it easier to see

      1. Pseu Donyme

        Re: Bull

        > ... ALL information ...

        Indeed. While in the US the concern may be only PII in the sense of information sufficient in itself to identify a person (such as name, phone number, ...), the EU data protection regime deals with any and all information about a person even when that information doesn't directly identify a particular person. In practice I'd think it is enough if a such information could be tied to a person by a third party for it to become 'personal information', the collection, distribution or even 'processing' in the most general sense of which is subject to restrictions, a key one among them being that this requires consent of the person about whom the the information is. Hence, e.g. collecting IP addresses so that they can associated with other information such as pages visited is verboten - or at least this is the German data protection authority's stance (with which I quite agree).

      2. FF22

        Re: Bull

        "The letter from the European Commission to Mr Hanff talks about ALL information, not just personally identifiable information."

        Wrong. It talks about information in the context of the data protection directive. The latter only prohibits storage of personally identifiable information. So the word "information" or even "all information" must be interpreted in this context.

        That said, as I already pointed out, because there's no actual storage of any information involved in ad blocker detection, it's completely irrelevant what the term "all information" means.

    3. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: Bull

      You are wrong - I have researched a large number of the adblock detection solutions and they all work by storing a javascript on the computer of the user which then checks how the page is rendered - whether specific elements exist or have been removed form the DOM.

      Furthermore as pointed out by the EU Commission - the law is relevant for ANY information stored or accessed and is not limited to personal data. In fact the EU Commission rightfully categorise adblock detection tools as spyware as per Recital 24 and Recital 65.

      I note you also spammed my Twitter feed with your nonsense - I suggest you actually go and learn something about the law before reporting back to your adblock detection company.

      I have been working on these issues for 10 years and know the law very well - I have been researching adblock detection for the last 14 months and have spoken to 10 different regulators in Europe as well as the EDPS and EU Commission - all of them (yes even ICO in the UK) agree with my analysis.

      I should add though that the letter from the EU Commission is not my reason for taking legal action - it was always my intention to do so which is why I started the work 14 months ago. Back in February last year I had a face to face meeting with DG Justice at the EU Commission in Brussels and they confirmed my concerns verbally. As I was approaching the point where I will begin filing legal complaints, I decided that having that opinion in writing would be useful so earlier this year I wrote to President of the EU Commission asking for them to formalise our original discussion in writing.

      1. maffski

        @Alexander Hanff 1

        I would presume all of this needs to only be downloaded to the cache, so your opinion is that anything in the web cache is 'stored data' and subject to protection?

        So, for instance, using javascript to fade a picture in would need the visitor to opt in before hand. But from a legal point of view there's no difference between javascript and css, so using a css file to control the layout on a page would not be possible without an opt in from the visitor?

        There's a part of me misses the old 90s web, when 'it wasn't about the money man.' Perhaps we get to visit it again. Right if you'll excuse me I just need to cut this image up into 20 parts so I can put them in a table.

        1. Alexander Hanff 1

          Re: @Alexander Hanff 1

          No you are missing the exemptions as I explained below. Also if you actually read the letter from the EU Commission you will notice they mention the exemptions as well.

          Please do read the information provided, it saves me repeatedly typing the same information over and over and over again.

      2. FF22

        Re: Bull

        "You are wrong - I have researched a large number of the adblock detection solutions and they all work by storing a javascript on the computer of the user which then checks how the page is rendered"

        Wrong. You're misusing the term "store" here and misrepresenting (or simply not understanding) what kind of storage (if any) is happening here, and who is storing that information (if anything). Fact is: anti ad blockers do NOT store any scripts on the client side.

        If anything, the browser _caches_ the scripts, which however, is not considered as "storage" in this context (ie. data protection rules). And the browser does so not because it's been instructed to do so by the page or the anti ad blocker, but because it does that on behalf of the user, for his convenience.

        However, anti ad blockers do not rely on this kind of caching (which you misinterpret as "storage") and would and will work the very same way they do, even if the browser does not cache any scripts, which it does deliberately, and which caching is controlled by the user.

        So, no, let me reiterate that to you again: anti ad blockers and ad blocking detection scripts themselves do NOT store any scripts on the users computer, and do NOT process any personally identifiable information either. As such anti ad blockers are not and can not be subject of the EU data protection directive.

        The EU didn't state otherwise either. They merely answered your question, based on false premises, and because of that they gave you an answer that is irrelevant and does not apply to actual ad blockers.

        The problem here is not with the legality anti ad blockers, but your understand of how these technologies (or even browsers and the web in general) works.

        1. Graham Marsden
          Childcatcher

          @FF22

          Please, let's have some full disclosure here.

          Tell us, which advert pusher do you work for?

          1. FF22

            Re: @FF22

            https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/loaded-question

            https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

            1. Graham Marsden

              Re: @FF22

              > https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/loaded-question

              > https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

              Thank you for telling me about logical fallacies (which I'm *well* aware of)

              However when you look at someone's El Reg list of posts and find that, since they joined the Forums on the 9th of October 2013, they have posted a grand total of 86 posts, a goodly proportion of which relate to the use of ad blockers and some of which contain such ludicrous comments like this one...

              "Theft is theft, no matter what your reasons for doing it are. And using web services and consuming content without "paying" for them by tolerating ads IS also theft."

              ... it is neither a loaded question, nor an ad hominem attack to wonder whether the poster who doth protest too much is doing so because he's worrying about his job disappearing.

              So if you *don't* work for an advert pusher, *WHY* are you getting so uptight about people using ad blockers or why it is that it seems that everyone else apart from FF22 considers that they way these ad-block-blockers work is illegal?

              1. FF22

                Re: @FF22

                @Graham Marsden:

                Your "reasoning" is like

                - if you're defending women's right not to be raped, you have to be a raped woman

                - if you're defending black people's right not to be shame for their skin color, you have to be a black man

                - if you're defending publishers right to not have their ad blocked blankly, you have to be a representative of an internet advertising company*

                (*which doesn't even make sense even in itself, but let's skip this part for now)

                No, I do NOT have to be a woman, a black man or an internet advertising (firm) to defend some group of people, a phenomenon or even just an idea against unfair treatment, false statements and abuse in general.

                And the reason why I'm saying what I'm saying is completely irrelevant and does not determine whether what I say is factual and logical. Not that I wouldn't have explicitly disclosed why I'm saying what I'm saying. Just saying, that even if I wouldn't have done so, it still wouldn't matter.

                Because if what I'm saying is not factual and makes no sense, you could obviously still rather easily point that out, and expose the logical and factual flaws in my comments. But you didn't and don't do that. Instead, you fall back to ad hominem attacks and other logical fallacies. You wouldn't have to do that if you would actually have a factual and logical counterpoint to my statements, would you?

                And no, you don't actually have to answer that question. It was a rhetoric one, which we both know the answer on.

                1. Graham Marsden

                  Re: @FF22

                  > Your "reasoning" is like

                  Oh deary, deary me, FF22 and you were complaining (incorrectly) about *me* using fallacious arguments!

                  Shall we try Ad Hominem Tu Quoque? Or maybe Burden of Proof? Or there's always the good old False Analogy...

                  (You could, of course, also look up the definition of what "theft" actually is, but that's by-the-by...)

                  > the reason why I'm saying what I'm saying is completely irrelevant

                  Is it? Ok, FF22, you tell us *why* this *ONE* particular issue is so important to you.

                  As I said, out of (what was, at the time) just 86 posts since 2013, a large proportion of them have been about the blocking of adverts, so why this and nothing else? Why are you putting so much time into attacking Alexander Hanff? I, for one, would like to know.

                  > if what I'm saying is not factual and makes no sense, you could obviously still rather easily point that out, and expose the logical and factual flaws in my comments. But you didn't and don't do that.

                  No, I haven't and I'm not going to because others are doing that and comprehensively and repeatedly demolishing your arguments, but you are simply not willing to accept even the possibility that you could be wrong.

                  So, again, I ask *WHY* this one particular issue is such a big deal for you.

                  Now are you going to answer that, or are you just going to try to move the goalposts again and attack me for pointing out your fallacies instead?

                  1. VinceH Silver badge

                    Re: @FF22

                    "but you are simply not willing to accept even the possibility that you could be wrong."

                    As I keep saying about the (online?) advertising industry: fingers in ears, "LALALALALA!"

                  2. Fatman Silver badge
                    Joke

                    Re: @FF22

                    @Graham Marsden,

                    <quote>Ok, FF22, you tell us *why* this *ONE* particular issue is so important to you.</quote>

                    Because (s)he is the Loverock Davidson of the ad industry.

          2. jason 7

            Re: @FF22

            "Tell us, which soon to be defunct/obsolete advert pusher do you work for?" - FTFY

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bull

          >However, anti ad blockers do not rely on this kind of caching (which you misinterpret as "storage") and would and will work the very same way they do, even if the browser does not cache any scripts, which it does deliberately, and which caching is controlled by the user.

          Yep -it's about 3 seconds of effort to add explicit http control headers which prevent caching too. He might have an argument if cookies were set - but this is unlikely since it would allow bypassing and also catch 'innocent' users when ads were not served or timeout.

          If ad purveyors had any sense they'd either

          A. open up their CDN to host publisher content so ad blockers can't discriminate between ads and content...or

          B shift to server-side distribution so publishers serve locally - fraud potential would kill their impressions based business but click-thrus are what advertisers actually care about anyway.

          1. FF22

            Re: Bull

            Your proposed solutions do not scale well and are using the resources very inefficiently. That's exactly why internet advertising has evolved over time not to work that way (which it did originally), but the way it does today.

            Such a change would also kill the biggest players in the field (like Google), who make money by inserting themselves between the advertisers and the publishers, and taking their cuts. So, they will do anything to hinder such a shift in the paradigms how internet advertising works.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bull

              >Your proposed solutions do not scale well and are using the resources very inefficiently.

              >Such a change would also kill the biggest players in the field (like Google)

              It was Google I was thinking of - in traffic terms Google (CloudFlare) is already serving the ads, the publisher content and click-thru targets now in billions of instances daily.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Bull

              "So, they will do anything to hinder such a shift in the paradigms how internet advertising works."

              And as ad-blockers render their current paradigms unworkable they'll change PDQ.

            3. Law

              Re: Bull

              "Your proposed solutions do not scale well and are using the resources very inefficiently. That's exactly why internet advertising has evolved over time not to work that way (which it did originally), but the way it does today."

              And yet, ads and possibly the overworked servers they're grabbed from will take a web page that loads in under 500ms, and make it take 5000ms, loading the ads before the content so you're just waiting. THIS is why I use an ad blocker, not because I hate ads per say, it's the speed/performance hit I get for the privilege.

              Try from a mobile on a slow connection and it gets much worse... Once (if) a page does load fully it often becomes unbrowsable, having scrolling hijacked so ads shift with the page, causing it to jump back up etc.

              Also don't buy into the idea of "assumed permission". The increase in click bait and click-event redirect ads (some will launch the page you want in a pop-up/new tab and have a dodgy ad website show up in the current tab) make this assumed permission obviously floored. Your whole industry is shooting itself in the foot!

              Basically, you have small legit ads that don't affect page performance or affect the use of the page you may have wanted... Then you get 90% of the other ad brokers who are owned by swine's, use poor programmers and built to run at minimum cost for maximum profit, so UX and privacy isn't their primary concern, in fact they're things to be removed from users in pursuit of your goal.

          2. a pressbutton

            Re: Bull

            I can see why they wont do (A)

            24/04/2016 10:00 Some of your ads are serving up malware and are directly from you

            24/04/2016 10:15 Aware user spots something odd, emails publisher

            24/04/2016 10:17 Email arrives

            24/04/2016 10:30 No-one reads the email

            24/04/2016 16:30 No-one reads the email

            25/04/2016 08:30 Someone reads the email.

            25/04/2016 09:30 Malware removed

            30,000 people have been exposed to malware 300 had to do something manually, 30 lost data

            At the very least your sites reputation now has rather diminished value.

            Quite probably (IANAL) if you did not take timely action once informed, you have liability for loss and consequential loss. At what point 'timely' is is arguable, but probably shortly after 24/04/2016 10:17.

        3. Martin-73 Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Bull

          FF22: you claim caching is not storage.

          From dictionary.com "3.

          Computers. a temporary storage space or memory that allows fast access to data: Web browser cache;"

          Read the word between temporary and space, and get back to me, kthxbai

          1. FF22

            Re: Bull

            "FF22: you claim caching is not storage."

            No. What I said was that the cache is created and managed deliberately by the browser on the users behalf, and anything that gets in there is not "stored" by the web page or the publisher, and as such is not and can not be subject of the EU DPD. The latter only regulates what the publisher can store on the user's computer, but in the case of the browser cache it's the user and the browser deliberately storing parts of the web page, for their own convenience, and without being instructed by the publisher to do so.

            Also, if such "storage" of elements of a web page in a browser's cache (regardless of how it went there) could be considered the violation of the EU DPD per se, then there would be no legal way for a web page to ask for the user's consent either, because, you know, they could only ask for that through a web page, which in turn could find itself also wound up in the browser's cache - making even the attempt to collect consent or present the actual content illegal.

            1. Alexander Hanff 1

              Re: Bull

              The people who write the laws, the people who enforce the laws all disagree with you - so good luck arguing your incredibly poor interpretation in the courts - you will fail.

              1. FF22

                Re: Bull

                Oh, so many fallacies again in a single comment from you:

                https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/bandwagon

                https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-authority

                All in all, even if said people would disagree with me, it wouldn't mean they would be right. But in reality they don't even disagree with me. It's only you thinking you do, because you can't even interpret the answer you got properly.

                That answer merely states that IF an anti ad blocker that would rely on storing scripts in the user's terminal, THEN that would need prior consent from the user to be legal. However, since anti ad blockers DO NOT STORE any scripts in the users terminal, such consent is not need for them to be legal.

                That's what you got there. Nothing more, nothing less. And your wishful thinking won't change that fact.

              2. FF22

                Re: Bull

                @Alexander Hanff 1

                Well, you know, this whole situation is exactly like if you would have contacted EU officials and asked them whether "PEZ dispensers that are dispensing cyanide pills" are legal or illegal - and you would have gotten an answer back, that explicitly states, that "well, PEZ dispensers that are dispensing cyanide pills are illegal, because cyanide is a toxic element that is not allowed to be present in food or toys above [just a wild guess] 0.001 micrograms".

                And then you would go on tour and to media outlets and would claim that "the EU has declared PEZ dispensers illegal" - while in fact they did nothing alike. They only answered your (rather pointless) question about an imaginary PEZ dispenser that specifically dispenses cyanide pills - but which has nothing to do with PEZ dispensers on the market and which nobody in their rights mind would start to manufacture anyway.

                The only difference between your "anti ad blocker that stores scripts" story and the "PEZ dispenser that dispenses cyanide pills" story is, that while the concept of a PEZ dispenser is simple enough for everybody to get a grasp on, and to realize that the problem with such a dispenser would be the cyanide itself, most people - including you - are simply not knowledgeable about the inner workings of anti ad blockers or even of the web and of web browsers in general to realize that

                (1) the problem with anti ad blockers that store scripts would be - according to the EU - not their existence per se, but storage of scripts, and that

                (2) existing anti ad blockers are not storing scripts or any other information on client computers - so they're not illegal either. And that you're riding a dead horse there.

                And it's not only that actual anti ad blockers don't store any information on the users' computers, but it wouldn't even make sense for them to do so. Because users can turn off or on the ad blocking any time, between any two page loads - and if an anti ad blocker would store any information on whether a user blocks ads, instead of re-evaluation that on every page load, then it would

                (1) fail to allow access to the content for a user that has turned his previously active blocker off, and

                (2) fail to deny to the content for users that have originally not blocked ads, but have enabled it after passing the ad block test. Which would completely defeat the purpose of an anti ad blocker, both ways.

                So, in reality all ad blockers work by checking whether the user is blocking ads on every single page load, and allowing or denying access to content based on the result only in regard of that single page just loaded. No storage of information is needed for that, and it would be actually totally counterproductive to store any such information.

                And because actual anti ad blockers do not store information on the users' computers and because they don't collect any personally identifiable information either (which again is not needed and would not make sense anyway), they're not and can't be illegal under EU data protection laws, even if they didn't ask for prior consent from the user for doing what they're doing.

                The only illegal anti ad blockers under the EU law would be those imaginary anti ad blockers that "store scripts" on the users' computers, but which do not exist in reality - only in your enquiry to the EU and of their reply on that.

                1. Expectingtheworst
                  Pirate

                  Re: Bull

                  I give up.

                  Please tell me where the cyanide dispensers are, I have lost the will to live.

        4. <shakes head>

          Re: Bull

          I think you will find that "personal information" in relation to a data processor is any information that can be used with other information held by the data processer to identify an individual.

          1. Alexander Hanff 1

            Re: Bull

            The ePrivacy Directive doesn't require access to "personal information" it covers ALL information as highlighted in the European Commission's letter. The main point of the amendments in 2009 (Article 5(3)) were to deal with spyware, malvertising and behvioural tracking/profiling - it is not the Data Protection Directive it is the ePrivacy Directive and exists for completely different purposes to the DPD.

            The European Commission regards adblock detection as a form of Spyware it also falls under the category of behavioural profiling (using an adblocker is a "behaviour").

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

    Any site that refuses to serve me content because I run an ad blocker gets put on my blacklist and is never visited again.

    There is always another place to find the information or buy goods these days that I feel that they are just shooting themselves in the foot.

    The more they block, the more they will turn people away.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

      Exactly, I could not have said this better. +1 Sir.

    2. VinceH Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

      "The more they block, the more they will turn people away."

      And maybe over time, the internet will be pared down to just the stuff worth having? In which case, keep it up advertisers, keep it up!

      1. jason 7

        Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

        No joke really. The internet is in need of a major cull of crap and parasite sites. We could lose over half of it and hardly notice.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

          "The internet is in need of a major cull of crap and parasite sites. "

          Yup. Most of those parasite sites scrape content from someone else, bracket it with intrusive adverts then push themselves using clickbait.

          Sometimes they even take over existing high quality sites..... Perhaps this has already happened to El Reg.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

        well, it would be hilarious, if the major Internet problem how to find true content under the MOUNTAIN of garbage were to be solved so spectacularly by the garbage-generating advertisers themselves...

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          This FF22 guy/gal

          Worst. Astroturfer. Ever.

          Imbibed a pinch too much of the ol' nose candy, perchance?

          1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: This FF22 guy/gal

            I'm not sure that's fair actually. Regardless of personal distaste for online advertising, I think his point is sound.

            The letter states that "storing of information of gaining of access to information already stored is [..]. allowed if the user has given his or her consent".

            FF22 is making the point that if you consider the caching of the ad-detection script to be "storage", and therefore requiring consent, then logically this requirement would then apply to everything in the cache.

            Visit a page that loads an image? The image is stored in the cache, so you have to give consent. And so on for every resource on the page, including the HTML itself. I'm no great fan of advertising online, and run an ad-blocker for most sites, but I have to agree with this assessment.

            Whether it's true or not will hinge on two things.

            First, the definition of storage as it is used in the directive. This is not simply a matter of quoting a dictionary definition: there must be exemptions for temporary storage required to facilitate the transaction, otherwise your SMTP server would not be able to accept your mail for further transmission, for example. I think the browser cache would fall into the same category.

            Second, the definition of consent. Perhaps you could argue that by typing a URL in your browser you have given informed consent to the display of that page and the resources you would reasonably assume to be a part of that page - stylesheets, images and so on. From there it's not a great stretch to argue that a script which checks whether the adverts are displayed properly is reasonably part of a website that depends on ad revenue.

            In short, if you assume Hanff is correct that explicit consent is required and applies to all storage, then it's reductio ad absurdum to the point where your browser is unable to function. I have no doubt he will take this to court and I'll be intersted in the result, but I think it's not as cut and dried as he makes out.

            1. Alexander Hanff 1

              Re: This FF22 guy/gal

              Please take the time to read the law and the recitals which explain the law. They very clearly answer your questions and show your thesis to be wrong.

              Storage is defined, consent is defined, exemptions exists.

              Thanks for your lazy "I cant be arsed to read" input.

              1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                Re: This FF22 guy/gal

                Given this topic is now four days old, and that the same point has been made several times already, perhaps you would consider sharing with us great unwashed the benefit of your many years of experience on this topic, and provide us with links to some of these answers you cite?

                After all this is your area of expertise, and they are fairly central to your argument. You probably have them to hand, as no doubt you will need to cite them as part of your impending challenges.

                Until then you are very welcome, and I anticipate once again basking in the warm glow of your haughty response.

                1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                  Re: This FF22 guy/gal

                  Tell you what Alexander, as you are clearly very busy and important., I'll save you the effort and quote this for you:

                  "(22) The prohibition of storage of communications and the related traffic data by persons other than the users or without their consent is not intended to prohibit any automatic, intermediate and transient storage of this information in so far as this takes place for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission in the electronic communications network and provided that the information is not stored for any period longer than is necessary for the transmission and for traffic management purposes, and that during the period of storage the confidentiality remains guaranteed. Where this is necessary for making more efficient the onward transmission of any publicly accessible information to other recipients of the service upon their request, this Directive should not prevent such information from being further stored, provided that this information would in any case be accessible to the public without restriction and that any data referring to the individual subscribers or users requesting such information are erased."

                  I presume this is the definition of storage you refer to?

                  Perhaps you could share some of your wisdom with us on paragraph 25?

                  (25) However, such devices, for instance so-called "cookies", can be a legitimate and useful tool, for example, in analysing the effectiveness of website design and advertising, and in verifying the identity of users engaged in on-line transactions. Where such devices, for instance cookies, are intended for a legitimate purpose, such as to facilitate the provision of information society services, their use should be allowed on condition that users are provided with clear and precise information in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC about the purposes of cookies or similar devices so as to ensure that users are made aware of information being placed on the terminal equipment they are using. Users should have the opportunity to refuse to have a cookie or similar device stored on their terminal equipment. This is particularly important where users other than the original user have access to the terminal equipment and thereby to any data containing privacy-sensitive information stored on such equipment. Information and the right to refuse may be offered once for the use of various devices to be installed on the user's terminal equipment during the same connection and also covering any further use that may be made of those devices during subsequent connections. The methods for giving information, offering a right to refuse or requesting consent should be made as user-friendly as possible. Access to specific website content may still be made conditional on the well-informed acceptance of a cookie or similar device, if it is used for a legitimate purpose.

                  Maybe I just can't be arsed again, but it looks like that could apply to JS used to "analyse the effectiveness [,..] of advertising", and that allowance is specifically made for "website content may still be made conditional on the well-informed acceptance of a cookie or similar device".

                  Asking the user to remove an ad block is asking for consent to show ads, wouldn't you agree?

                  If I understand your argument, you say the storage of the script which asks the user to remove add blocking itself requires consent? But surely asking for any form of consent requires a script, which requires storage, which requires consent? I refer you to my reductio ad absurdum argument above.

                  If you could spare a minute to enlighten us hoi polloi further that would certainly further the conversation, don't you think?

                  1. Alexander Hanff 1

                    Re: This FF22 guy/gal

                    "in so far as this takes place for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission in the electronic communications network"

                    Adblock detection scripts are nothing to do with carrying out the transmission in the electronic communications networks - their purpose is to detect adblockers.

                    "their use should be allowed on condition that users are provided with clear and precise information in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC about the purposes of cookies or similar devices so as to ensure that users are made aware of information being placed on the terminal equipment they are using. Users should have the opportunity to refuse to have a cookie or similar device stored on their terminal equipment."

                    Which just verifies exactly what I have stated - users need to give their consent - current methods of detection are happening without consent. Also note the "users should have the opportunity to refuse" so these scripts cannot be used until the user is given the opportunity to refuse such activities.

                    So thanks for your input but if you think it does anything other than verify -everything- I and the European Commission have stated, you seem to be having some issues with your comprehension.

    3. Tony Paulazzo

      Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

      Any site that refuses to serve me content because I run an ad blocker gets put on my blacklist and is never visited again.

      Mostly agreed, except for Channel4's All4 (as was 4oD). Unfortunately their stupid adblock detector cannot detected that I've whitelisted their site*, so I've sent a link to them and told them to be at the forefront of disavowing adblock detectors.

      * Possibly because I use ublock rather than adblock - mind you I also use NoScript and have a stupid long host file so ain't nut'ing gettin into my system!

      1. Chika

        Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

        Mostly agreed, except for Channel4's All4 (as was 4oD). Unfortunately their stupid adblock detector cannot detected that I've whitelisted their site*

        It's an old problem. Back in the day, users were blocked by lazy coders from viewing pages unless they used Internet Explorer whether or not the browser they were using could render the page or not. In this case it's just that the lazy coder in this case was only interested in seeing if you had a blocker rather than checking that they had actually been blocked.

      2. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

        4oD is - or was, the last time I tried to use it - broken. I don't use an Ad Blocker because NoScript pretty much wipes most advertising out anyway, and that, Ghostery, and my cookie retention policy all combine to knock tracking on the head.

        However, when I last visited 4oD in an attempt to watch something (and after I'd got NoScript [temporarily] whitelisting the necessary script sources, the site played me the pre-show adverts, then the first part of the program. IIRC, it then played me the first break adverts, before putting up a message saying it was blocking me from viewing the remaining content because I was running an Ad Blocker.

        After pissing around to get things working again, it played me the pre-show adverts before I could see (and therefore skip through) the first part again, then I had to sit through the first break adverts again, before continuing to watch the program.

        Unsurprisingly, I've never bothered with 4oD since. If it's on one of C4's channels, if I don't manage to record it (or a repeat) I don't watch it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

      "There is always another place to find the information or buy goods these days that I feel that they are just shooting themselves in the foot."

      ALWAYS? I don't think so. There's always an ad-blocker-aware site that hosts exclusive-not-found-anywhere-else content that forces you into a take-it-or-leave-it scenario. Frequently, I find that to be necessary but obscure device drivers which means I have to take it or abandon the hardware which means money.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Almost enough to make me want to vote to stay in

        "Frequently, I find that to be necessary but obscure device drivers which means I have to take it or abandon the hardware which means money."

        Extreme edge cases don't seem like a sound foundation for what might remain of the existing advertising business model.

  7. davcefai
    FAIL

    The marketeeers have shot themselves in the foot. There is a place for discreet ads on a page but large flashing red ads are what drove me into the arms of adblock, a cosy place where I intend to stay.

    I have no right to force myself onto a web site which doesn't want me to use an adblocker but I can, and do, vote with my feet and wallet. (OK, for the pedants: my fingers and little stash of cash.)

    1. Craigness

      "I have no right to force myself onto a web site which doesn't want me to use an adblocker"

      This is why adblock-blockers should be legal. The EU should not give you a right you should not have.

    2. HereIAmJH

      Adverstisers consistently prove their unworthyness

      Flashing ads, then pop-ups, then pop-unders, interstitials, auto playing videos and user trackers. I have sympathy with good web sites trying to generate ad revenue, but the techniques that have been used over the years to stuff unwanted ads down our throats means that with very few exceptions, if I can't use an ad-blocker I'm not going to visit. If they would stop being such assholes, I suspect many would stop using ad blockers. I know I get tired of the drama of maintaining a good ad blocker. (the bastardization of Ghostery recently is a good example)

    3. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Stacks of cash? I hardly ever use cash any more, and never on the internet. It's all about shoving numbers around.

      I don't even use it much for live transactions. I keep some cash for the occasional candy bar, bag of chips ("crisps" if you like), tips and such, but the rest goes on a credit card. (Just for convenience, not a mounting debt.) $100 cash usually lasts me several months.

      ...Oh sorry, you said "pedants", I thought you were calling me. ;)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bull?

    That kinda fits with the associated website: http://www.think-privacy.com

    It appears to be peddling software, or maybe vapourware?

    The cap seems to fit.

    Site visitors are referred to Mr Hanff's Twitter thing....

    That's surely not a very suitable place for :-

    " ... a globally respected privacy expert and advocate with a background in computer science, pyschology, sociology and law... " (according to the website)

    Twitter features a rant vs the BBC for not airing his interview - maybe the Beeb knows something?

    Or maybe not...

    Perhaps Alexander Hanff would care to comment on these august pages?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Bull?

      "That's surely not a very suitable place for :-

      " ... a globally respected privacy expert and advocate with a background in computer science, pyschology, sociology and law... " (according to the website)"

      How much of an international presence did Max Schrems have? Didn't help Google then.

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Bull?

      I assume you're posting as 'Anonymous Coward' because you care about your privacy?

      And yet you're criticising someone who takes steps to help you protect the privacy you seem to care about.

      Or perhaps I'm wrong: You don't care about your privacy - or anyone else's for that matter; perhaps it's really that you're part of the problem: An advertising industry that thinks it can just trample over people's privacy (while also compromising their security).

      1. Alexander Hanff 1

        Re: Bull?

        I suspect it is one of my stalkers - the language of his comment matches that of a stalker I have had for the past 8 years, I just ignore them.

        1. DocJames
          Pint

          Re: Bull?

          And your anonymous stalker relies on appeals to authority rather than actually putting forward an argument. Definitely to be ignored.

          Have a cyberpint!

        2. BT Customer

          Re: Bull?

          If Mr Hanff is referring to @blepharon as his Twitter "stalker" then I can categorically state that Bull (I've no idea who BULL is) posting above is NOT @blepharon (and that @blepharon is NOT a stalker).

          Any futher unsubstantiated allegations he might want to make on that subject, should be backed up with verifiable evidence - I can certainly publish my own.

          But getting back to adblocking - I'm not at all sure that the pics of the EU letter/email that we got given on twitter make it clear that detecting adblockers is illegal. ~IANAL - and neither is Mr Hanff.

          1. The letter talks about what is allowed/not allowed, under the legislation, and that is not the same as saying that any unspecified model of adblock detection is illegal or legal.

          2. It isn't the whole letter - when Mr Hanff has the time, it would be good to see a proper scanned pdf of the whole letter, available online.

          3. It isn't an opinion from the advocate general or the ECJ following a specific test case, and is therefore not legally binding on anyone.

          I'd love to see my version what I THINK the ePrivacy directive says actually enforced - but having personally been through 8 years of the blood sweat and tears of the Phorm campaign (where I worked very hard to support Mr Hanff for some years), as well as seeing no progress on StalkStalk (despite trying personally with others to pursue legal action against TalkTalk) or the interception of email by Google, Yahoo! UK&Ireland, BT, and the interception of web browsing by BlueCoat Systems/Verizon/Huawei - I am not easily persuaded that something IS illegal just because Mr Hanff SAYS it is, and that such "illegality" will actually be enforced by the national or European courts.

          So far I've not actually SEEN any legal actions pursued to a conclusions by Mr Hanff on these or related matters, whether against Google, Safari, or others. Threats, rudeness, emotive personal opinions, but no actual court hearings with judgements.

          My personal opinion? I use a HOSTS file, I use an adblocker, and I also use an anti "adblock-detector" greasemonkey script. I pay for content I value using a subscription model.

          Why? Not primarily to protect my privacy although that is important - I don't like being tracked and I do my best to prevent it. But mainly because I don't trust ad-networks not to serve MALWARE onto my computer. Which is why I also run script blockers.

          If I used a smartphone, I'd also be bothered about ads swallowing up bandwidth.

          I'll wait for the further appearance of material next week on Mr Hanff's website ( http://think-privacy.com ?), as promised on https://twitter.com/alexanderhanff/status/723457388104286209 - is that the same material promised 5 weeks ago for the week beginning 14th March https://twitter.com/alexanderhanff/status/708326532075413504 ?

          I doubt the answer will be found in legal threats. It will be inexorable pressure from ordinary consumers reacting by continuing to use adblockers, developing their own opensource tech to circumbent adblocker-detetion, and avoiding publishers who take measures that consumers find unacceptable -It's along time since I polluted my devices with Murdoch's brand of "publishing". That process is already happening and the ad-tech companies are losing (hence all the conferences they are sponsoring). Publishers who adapt to that reality can survive. The others? We can live without them.

          Meanwhile - my advice is.. "follow the money" (on all sides of the argument).

          Keep mentioning malvertising and bandwidth when publicising the issue.

          Always ask for evidence.

          Don't believe what people tell you unless they can back up their claims/allegations with evidence.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Bull?

            'I am not easily persuaded that something IS illegal just because Mr Hanff SAYS it is, and that such "illegality" will actually be enforced by the national or European courts'

            Of course illegality won't be determined except by decision of a court. But courts don't proactively pursue cases. Cases have to be brought to them. This appears to be Mr Hanff's intention and seeking the views of the regulators is a sensible step to take before doing so.

  9. Mark Simon

    Grey Areas

    I agree with the EU’s stance, but I’m a little unsure where the boundaries are.

    Search engines and other services use the IP address to guess the location, and mobile devices already have access to geolocation via JavaScript. Servers and JavaScript have been known to do some browser and OS sniffing. Even screen size sniffing to choose suitable images. Can’t this be regarded as private data in the same sense?

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: Grey Areas

      No the law is actually quite sensible and gives some exemptions for purposes strictly necessary to provide a service the user has requested. Detecting browser resolution in order to render the page properly would fall under such an exemption.

      Even detecting device via the user-agent to see what the pixel density is (retina or not) would fall under the same exemption.

      But it is also about the purpose that data is used for - if the user-agent, browser resolution, font list etc are then re-used to create a device fingerprint for identification purposes - that is when it becomes illegal (this was covered by an Article 29 Working Party opinion from 2014).

      It should be noted as well that making changes to existing cookie banners would not make this legal either for a number of reasons:

      1. Cookie banner solutions are currently not compliant with the law (they place the cookies before the page is even rendered and the user has seen the banner)

      2. Recital 66 of the ePrivacy Directive allows the use of "browser settings or other applications" to indicate whether or not you consent to the storage or access to stored information. In my discussions with regulators and the Commission, such an action by the user (installing an adblocker) would be seen as an explicit denial of consent as it is based on a specific and deliberate action of the user, which cannot be nullified by an implied consent from a "cookie banner" (these banners rely on consent being implied). Explicit trumps implied every time.

      1. Craigness

        Re: Grey Areas

        If the user requests an ad-free page but the publisher does not provide ad-free pages then they should be allowed to detect the user's request and refuse it.

        1. Alexander Hanff 1

          Re: Grey Areas

          Then they should lobby to have the law changed to allow this - because whether you agree with the law or not does not mean you are free to disobey it.

          1. Craigness

            Re: Grey Areas

            If a government makes it technically illegal to take non-harmful actions in order to refuse service to someone who will not pay for that service, then the moral thing to do is get the law changed, not shake down innocent people who have fallen into its trap. This is particularly true when the law is difficult to understand or interpret.

            How are you better than a patent troll? You're a regulation troll.

            1. Alexander Hanff 1

              Re: Grey Areas

              I spent the last 6 months speaking at industry events (both advertising and publishing) warning them they are breaking the law and suggesting they find a better way. 500 million (roughly 25% of Internet users globally) blocking ads because of privacy and other concerns is quite possibly the world's biggest ever protest. The current model is unsustainable and instead of trying to find a way which is acceptable to Internet users they choose instead to go to war with them using illegal tools to infringe on the fundamental rights of the people.

              So don't tell me I haven't given them a chance to fix the situation, I have - repeatedly.

              Now the time for action has arrived.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Grey Areas

              "If a government makes it technically illegal to take non-harmful actions in order to refuse service to someone who will not pay for that service"

              There's nothing to stop any server paywalling their site. That's not the point here.

              And the user viewing ads is not paying. Someone else is paying, the advertiser of whatever product or service is being advertised; and oddly enough they're quite likely paying good money to piss off the visitor who will then be making a mental note never to spend their own good money on that product or service.

        2. Alumoi

          Re: Grey Areas

          Damn right!

          And they should inform the user by forcing the web browser full screen, using blinking text and annoying loud (and I mean ear shattering loud) sound that he/she is a fking freeloader and he/she should die a horrible death.

          Oh, wait, they server ads, so it's the same thing.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Grey Areas

        >1. Cookie banner solutions are currently not compliant with the law (they place the cookies before the page is even rendered and the user has seen the banner)

        So now the cookie consent kit published by the EU on advice from the lawyers who drafted the law (most of whom would also be the technical legal advisors to the judges in your mythical case) is illegal? I think not.

  10. quattroprorocked

    Publishers could simply

    "Hi, we only grant free access to people who actually appreciate what we do

    May we check your browser for ad blocking?

    Yes - we check and if no ad blocking, (or you ad block but we're whitelisted) you see the site.

    Yes - and if you have ad blocking and we're NOT whitelisted we drop a cookie that allows you to see the page you wanted now, plus X pages per month for free, and hope you like us enough to become a regular reader at $1pw.

    No - you don't value our work? Find someone else to give you the info you want.

    GOOD NEWS - all our ads are safe to view. We host them on our servers and they do not get to use any of your information, and there is no external code called, and the only links are ones you can click to go to the advertisers site."

    This model would allow potential new subscribers to taste, help those just dropping in for something on the fly, persuade those who really appreciate the site to pay for it, and deep six the whole ad flinging biz.

    I pay WIRED $1 a week. I'd happily pay El Reg the same. Vice I read but could live without.

    I used to be a publisher (with a safe ads policy) and frankly, if you won't pay, and won't allow safe ads, you can fuck off. But safe ads are the key. Until publishers can promise that, ad blocks will stay.

    1. storner
      Thumb Up

      Re: Publishers could simply

      Couldn't agree more. When I stumble across a site that seems interesting, I am quite willing to pay them for their efforts - but in return, I expect them to stop forcing ads down my pipe. Or at least give me the option to turn off the darned noise.

      But expecting to get intelligent writings for free is naïve.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Publishers could simply

        "But expecting to get intelligent writings for free is naïve."

        And we have El Reg to prove it!

    2. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: Publishers could simply

      I am fighting for (and have been doing so for the last 10 years) the removal of non-consensual tracking and behavioural profiling (which actually only makes up around 7.5% of display ad revenues according to the industry's own research). My campaign is about privacy not about ads. Also, as I have stated a number of times there are legitimate and legal ways to detect adblockers - the issue here is non of the tools being used currently do this in a legal way.

      I also think it is ok for publishers to block content to people who refuse to view their ads - but they must do it legally - currently they are doing it illegally.

      But this campaign is also about publishers who are not just illegally detecting adblockers but circumventing them (which is also illegal) and no publisher has any right whatsoever to circumvent the choice of a consumer and display the ads despite knowing the user has refused consent.

      1. Craigness

        Re: Publishers could simply

        Are you trying to get the law changed to make unharmful practices legal, or are you trying to shake down honest publishers who are just trying to make a living?

    3. Tony Paulazzo

      Re: Publishers could simply

      I used to be a publisher (with a safe ads policy)

      Dude, I was so with you until that last paragraph. If you don't like how the internet works (hint: it's a two way street not a passive selling medium), then you fuck off. Yes, you can open a dialogue with me as a potential customer, but don't try force feeding me your agenda. Go back to TV where people channel flick thru the ads or make coffee or surf their tablet / phone (which now Apple are happy with adblocking means advertisers are truly fucked), maybe they should try opening a dialogue because they're losing friends right, left & centre.

      NOTE: Didn't downvote you, and will happily whitelist sites I frequent.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Publishers could simply

        "Dude, I was so with you until that last paragraph."

        To what were you objecting - that he was a publisher or that he had a safe ads policy? Should he have had an unsafe ads policy?

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Publishers could simply

      If the ads are hosted by the site the ad-blocker would be a no-op unless it blocked the entire site so the first part of your comment would be irrelevant. It would also enable the site would have to take responsibility for what it showed so there would be an incentive to filter out attempts at malvertising and a disincentive to repel viewers with ads that offensively attempt to stick their fingers into visitors' eyes and ears.

    5. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Publishers could simply

      Safe Not disruptive ads I'd accept.

      I watch ITV, sometimes. I accept ads. But TV ads don't flash across the screen while I'm watching the content. Don't interrupt too often ( and provide opportunities to put kettle on or visit the loo when they do) and don't intrude by flashing stupid colours on and off, bounce around or present stupid come-ons that are just there to lead you to somewhere totally different.

      It's not the ads that bother me. It's the disruption.

      1. quattroprorocked

        Re: Publishers could simply

        FWIW, I would not have video pop under blow up jump out ads on any site I ran, and back then, I didn't. Static image and text is all I allowed. It's all I'd allow now.

        I think disruptive ads are a pain that pisses off the audience, and any site that used them would have a hard time keeping me as a reader even if they were safe.

      2. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: Publishers could simply

        <quote>I accept ads. But TV ads don't flash across the screen while I'm watching the content.</quote>

        Then consider yourself lucky.

        Here on the other side of the pond, on many independent stations, popover ads are becoming the rage during the program.

        Other stations will crop the credits to only a portion of the screen just in order to side load more ads.

        1. illiad

          Re: Publishers could simply

          they must be more observant in Portugal, where that film/programme ends, and goes to ads.. after the ads, the credits come up! :D

    6. jason 7

      Re: Publishers could simply

      I'm happy to pay. I just don't want ANY ads. If you don't want my money, then you too can fuck off.

  11. Mr Templedene

    I used ghostery for quite a while, but decided I could put up with ads when an update meant it seemed to ignore whitlisted sites and keep blocking.

    After I removed it, ad-block detection still detects that I have an ad-blocker running, even though now I don't!

    That is very annoying, wired and fark are two of the obvious guilty parties.

    1. Chika

      @Mr Templedene

      Totally agreed. The last version of Ghostery had detrimental effects on a number of sites and I often found that the only way to get in with no problems was to switch the damn thing off, so I uninstalled it. A pity because at one time it did a good job.

    2. John Savard Silver badge

      If Ghostery gets detected after it's uninstalled, Ghostery, not Wired or Fark, is the guilty party. Any program that leaves traces of itself behind after the Windows Uninstaller has done its work has not been following the rules for a Windows application.

      But presumably it's not sold in stores in boxes, so it doesn't need to get permission to stick a logo on them.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        " Any program that leaves traces of itself behind after the Windows Uninstaller has done its work has not been following the rules for a Windows application."

        ?

        How did Windows Uninstaller get in here?

        1. Fatman Silver badge

          RE to answer your question.

          <quote>How did Windows Uninstaller get in here?</quote>

          IF this were a court of law, then the other side would have to raise an objection on the grounds of Facts Not In Evidence.

          IOW, someone assumed that Windows was involved; and may not be aware of alternative O/Ses like Linux, OSX, etc.

  12. Efros

    Already apply

    My own Site Blocker. Fairly simple, if the site asks me to disable adblocker by refusing to load content until I do I don't go there again. Fuck you Forbes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Already apply

      I just dont go to sites that try to block access for add blocked browser on my main browser i fire up a different one without add block to view the site if i really want to see it.once i have seen the page i clear the cashe, history and cookies for that browser.

      I am on a limited bandwidth account and all the adds add up.

    2. Craigness

      Re: Already apply

      Have you ever paid Forbes for their content?

      What do you think they might want to say to you?

      1. Efros

        Re: Already apply

        nope and frankly I don't care, and I won't know what they want to say to me while they block access.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Already apply

        "Have you ever paid Forbes for their content?"

        I don't use that site so I don't know whether they have a paid for option. Do they? Because if they don't your question is irrelevant - if they don't accept payment he can't make one.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I dont get a choice.

    I dont get a choice as add blocking is done at the firewall.

    the solution used is not as complete as add block + but it does stop a lot of adverts.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: I dont get a choice.

      AC wrote "add blocking"

      add = addition

      ad = advertisement

      Tom Scott does a nice video rant about the dangers of electronic voting. One possible upside of e-voting could be that everyone's online e-vote could be weighted down based on, for example, how often they use 'add' to mean 'advertisement', or using the wrong 'there, they're, their' word.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I dont get a choice.

        JeffyPoooh

        I do apologise for being dyslexic and having problems with spelling.

        I have enough problems with spelling when coding let alone having to deal with spelling Nazis.

        why is my opinion / vote any less relevant or weighty based on my ability to spell.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: I dont get a choice.

          Compilers are the fiercest 'spelling Nazis'. No excuses, no apologies.

          Anyway, you can relax. I've arranged to have your full-weight vote reinstated. ;-)

  14. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    'Wired' does this.

    After about 15s, they throw up a message, "Here’s The Thing With Ad Blockers..."

    Refresh, pause while content reloads, then click 'X' to stop it happening again.

    Seems to work.

    1. Chika

      Re: 'Wired' does this.

      Have noticed that Dailymotion has started doing something similar recently. A screen with "Oops" and a message to check various things "and switch off any Ad Blockers" comes up. Not on every video, but enough to make it annoying.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 'Wired' does this.

        "a message to check various things "and switch off any Ad Blockers" comes up. Not on every video, but enough to make it annoying."

        Yep, it's utterly crazy and made worse by lazy webdevs. I don't use an ad blocker. But I do use NoScript. I will almost always whitelist the URI of the site I am visiting if it's a useful site and I'm likely to re-visit and sometimes even the CDN they use. But I leave the 3rd party scripts blocked. It's not my fault if they want to use scripts to show me ads. If the ads came from 3rd party URIs without using scripts then I have no doubt they would appear on my screen as intended. I'd be fine with that. But so many ad slingers have proven unable to police themselves by flinging out malware that I simply do not trust them to be allowed to execute code on my PC.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: 'Wired' does this.

      > After about 15s, they throw up a message, "Here’s The Thing With Ad Blockers..."

      Which is pretty easy to stop.

      If websites allowed an option for "non-intrusive ads" then I'd probably take ot.

      The problem is they don't and generally they offer adverts in frames from 3rd parties who don't adequately vet the content. I've run across too many driveby software installations and _noisy_ adverts in frames to allow them ever again.

      1. illiad

        Re: 'Wired' does this.

        sooooo many drone on, forgetting that it is MOSTLY googles fault for monetising it for lazy people!!!

  15. Trey Pattillo

    snooping my machine

    is a violation....

    One tech site known as tweak town [no space plus .com] know that you are running AdBlock Plus and you get the following below legalize in 7 languages and no way to "contact" them, read "privacy" etc....just the crap text.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AD BLOCKER INTERFERENCE DETECTED

    Your ad blocker is interfering with the operation of this site. Please disable it or whitelist this site. Thank you.

    --------------------------------

    WRONG....you must remove ABP. Just disabling it or whitelisting will not work.

    WHERE ARE THE REGULATORS [US or EU] to send Guido and his baseball bat to give them a clue about the latest of "viral 3rd party ads".

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: snooping my machine

      You would have thought that legitimate advertisers would want to display effective ads to the people who might actually buy stuff. This would mean far fewer, better ads. But at the end of the chain the only way we have of expressing a preference for good quality advertising versus random malware is to install ad blockers. The communication channel has too high a noise to signal ratio.

      I don't have a practical solution to this, but perhaps this is something the EU could put its mind to. If it could have such a success over micro USB, a standard for inoffensive advertising on websites, an accreditation system, and an adblocker that whitelists ads on approved sites might be a starting point.

      1. FF22

        Re: snooping my machine

        "But at the end of the chain the only way we have of expressing a preference for good quality advertising versus random malware is to install ad blockers. "

        Wrong. Actually, the contrary is true: ad blocking is what eliminates any expression of preference - because, you know, it blocks all ads, regardless of its quality, which it can't and doesn't even try to asses.

        You could only expect ads to become more of what you think is better quality, if you would not block them, but would rather visit sites which display ads you like (or hate less), and shun sites that display ads that you find bad an obtrusive. This way sites with better ads would proliferate, and sites with bad ads would go out of business.

        But with ad blocking on, you are not only eliminating that feedback loop, but are also forcing publishers to show more obtrusive ads to the remaining non-adblocking folks, because now they will have to cover also the costs of serving you with those ads.

        Ad blocking is not the solution, but the very problem that makes ads larger and more obtrusive.

        1. raving angry loony

          Re: snooping my machine

          FF22 the advertising industry apologist writes: "But with ad blocking on, you are not only eliminating that feedback loop" and "Ad blocking is not the solution, but the very problem that makes ads larger and more obtrusive."

          Which, as we all know, is complete and utter bullshit.

          For starters, I've only seen one platform that allows any feedback on ads. Others are "click here to give us feedback" but all that does is take us to the subject of the advert in the first place, with no way to actually give feedback. The only feedback we CAN give is tell you to fuck right off. So we do. Some ads are OK. Others are not. But we can't CHOOSE. So we choose to remove all of them. The problem is not ours. It's yours.

          As for ad blocks making ads larger and more obtrusive? A tiny fraction of the population currently uses ad blockers. Ergo, ad blockers aren't what's making adverts larger and more obtrusive. I'm guessing the real reason is the total disconnect between the advertisers and the people they're trying to foist their shit onto. Advertisers seem to think that the only purpose of the internet is to sell their shit. Well, they're wrong. And until they learn that they're wrong, ad blockers will continue to rise in popularity. Of course, advertisers are like any salesperson - completely immune to self criticism and completely deluded about their popularity.

          Tell you what. Go back to your boss in the advertising industry and tell him that when (a) they actually let us give FEEDBACK on the desirability of ALL ads they've just pushed in our face and (b) they STOP making the ads larger and more obtrusive some of us will then turn off the ad blockers (and script blockers, and tracker blockers, and other blockers.)

          I've yet to see an ad that actually asks for feedback on the ad itself. No, each time there's a link, no matter what the link CLAIMS it is for, it's actually just another excuse to fuck me over with intrusive advertising and privacy invading scripts or some other crap. So we can't give feedback on a per-ad basis. Nor can block on a per-provider basis because the advertising industry hides itself under multiple pseudonyms and other slimy practices - just like the scum they are.

          So yeah, there's a war on. One the advertisers may or may not win. But until the advertisers realize that they are the cause of most of their own problems, nothing will change. Until apologists like you stop blaming the public for choosing not to read your crap, nothing will change. Look towards how you operate for the real cause of the problem.

          And if websites want to block me for using an ad blocker, by all means do so. I'll gladly go elsewhere. But do so without breaking EU privacy laws, or suffer the very real, very expensive consequences.

          1. FF22

            Re: snooping my machine

            @raving angry loony

            You heard that loud woooosh sound? It was the point I made flying over your head.

            What I said - and what you didn't get - was that by not visiting sites with "bad" ads, but switching to sites with "good" ad instead, you're creating a feedback loop, which doesn't need you to actually fill out a form about ads. The system will just notice automatically what's good, and what's bad, and adapt to that and to your preferences.

            That's like "voting" with your money, you're just doing it with your eyeballs. But by not giving money/eyeballs to anyone (because of using an ad blocker), you won't force anybody to make better products for you. The only thing you can achieve is that nobody will want to make stuff for you, because they won't be able to make a living off that.

            Simple as that. Even you could understand.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: snooping my machine

              Put it this way. They'll just make the ads more obnoxious and unavoidable until you either acquiesce or abandon the Internet.

              And if you choose the latter, then they'll follow you back into reality, where junk calls from foreign parts and junk mail from shell addresses are all over.

              Ad men are going to track you, full stop. That's the way they make their living. Try to ban them, they'll come back as something else. About the only way you'll get rid of the ad men is to check out of society.

              1. illiad

                Re: snooping my machine

                there is always paranoia.... LOLOL

                you forget there are legions of hackers out there, selling 'anti-ad' stuff, laughing at you....

              2. Peter Ford
                Mushroom

                Re: snooping my machine

                There *is* an alternative to *me* checking out of society, although it might lead to me being forcibly checked out of society. After all, advertising companies have offices, employ people, operate computers. All of those are potential targets for someone sufficiently annoyed by the intrusion...

            2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

              Re: snooping my machine

              The feedback (-ve naturally) to the Ad slingers is very simple...

              WE DON'T WANT ADS

              Now do you understand?

              The more ads the less I want to visit your site in the future.

            3. Chris G Silver badge

              Re: snooping my machine

              FF22 Up until that last a fair amount of what you were saying was at least reasoned even if I didn't agree with it.

              However, in what universe is there a way of knowing which sites have "good" ads and which sites have "bad" ads without visiting them all ?

              In addition if sites were receiving less hits because of their ad quality then the ad campaigners would mix and match the ad content much as they do at the moment so as to cover most or all eventualities.

              Besides, I doubt strongly if there is such a thing as a good ad except for that rare moment when something pops up advertising exactly the thing I was looking for and I for one am not going to tolerate the unacceptable level of advertising in the hope that a once a decade ad should show up.

              For what it's worth 'Feedback' in the ad industry is what the rest of us call money, if there were no controls on advertising, there is little that many ad companies would not stoop to to get their message out.

              1. FF22

                Re: snooping my machine

                "However, in what universe is there a way of knowing which sites have "good" ads and which sites have "bad" ads without visiting them all ?"

                Why are you asking this? Why would you have to know and how could you know about *anything* whether it fits your taste or meets your standards without looking at it first? If there's literally nothing in any universe you could evaluate without at least looking at it first, why would you expect to be able to do that with ads? You're making no sense, are you?

            4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: snooping my machine

              'What I said - and what you didn't get - was that by not visiting sites with "bad" ads, but switching to sites with "good" ad instead, you're creating a feedback loop, which doesn't need you to actually fill out a form about ads.'

              Nice one. The only way to distinguish these sites would be to turn off the ad-blockers!

              What a pity we can all see through it.

            5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: snooping my machine

              "The system will just notice automatically what's good, and what's bad, and adapt to that and to your preferences."

              What "system"? How does it know where I've gone? How does it know that the site I visit isn't just a one off? How does know that the reason I didn't go back was because of the ads? Maybe I didn't go back because of the content, ie the primary reason I went there in the first place.

              I think that whooshing sound you are hearing is the points of others going over your head, not ours. NO ONE visits a site specifically to see 3rd party adverts.

              At best, what your "system" will do is notice that one site is more popular than another and start pushing the obnoxious ads there instead of the less popular one which people stopped visiting because of your obnoxious ads in the first place. The way you describe your "system" adapting is more akin to an infectious disease spreading from host to host when it should be mutating into something beneficial.

              1. FF22

                Re: snooping my machine

                "What "system"?"

                Free market. You've probably heard of it before.

                "How does it know where I've gone?"

                Because that's where the ads are served to you.

                "How does it know that the site I visit isn't just a one off? "

                It doesn't have to. The point is: if you and everybody else are visiting a site only once, because it serves "bad" ads (whatever that might mean), the site only earns pennies. But if you regularly return to a site, because it serves "good" ads (whatever that might mean), it makes a tons of money. So the site with the "good ads" will proliferate, and the site with "bad ads" will go out of business.

                It's the very same as what you do when you buy products on the free market. If a company makes bad products or provides bad service, then people will buy from them only once, and never again, and will even alert others to not buy products from that company. So this company with bad products will get no business in the long term. People will instead flock to companies that make better products, and that company will be able to expand, and grow, and provide even more good quality products and services.

                Now, if people would only pick sites based on how bad or good ads on them are, then the same evolutionary process would take place on the market of ads, and they would get all better. Instead, with blocking, there's no incentive to make ads better, and actually the most reckless site is that will be the last standing. And all the good ones will go out of business.

                1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

                  Re: snooping my machine

                  Now, if people would only pick sites based on how bad or good ads on them are, then the same evolutionary process would take place on the market of ads, and they would get all better.

                  Or, perhaps, things could work the way they should. Advertisers sort out the state of their own house, and people pick sites based on the quality of the content they're going there to see. No-one picks a site based on ads, though they may be pushed into avoiding it because of the ads.

                  As others have said, the "free market" doesn't seem to work with advertisers. Google's Adsense became hugely popular at one point, in part because the ads were largely text based and non-intrusive. Have advertisers learnt from this success, or are they still pushing flashing animated shit over our pipes? Did the popularity lead to a reduction in that kind of shite? Temporarily, maybe, but it seems to have been whilst the advertisers regrouped and then pushed back with even more crap.

                2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: snooping my machine

                  "Now, if people would only pick sites based on how bad or good ads on them are"

                  FFS, you really are on another planet! NO ONE EVER picks a site based on the quality of the ads. People pick a site based on the content. If the ads are obnoxious they leave and try elsewhere.

                  It's the CONTENT they want. They are not looking for ads. The ads are an intrusion and if a site becomes popular, it's greedy bastards like you who ruin it by thinking you can get more click throughs and more money by "competing" for the most intrusive and obnoxious ads. The actions of the users are blindingly obvious. WE DON'T LIKE YOUR ADS. We "vote" with our eyeballs and go somewhere else. You evil bastards follow us and ruin the the alternative site too, so we move again and STILL you follow us. Ad blockers are a response to YOUR escalation.

                  If a site is unusable with 3rd party scripts blocked then I go somewhere else. If you want my eyeballs then find a way to place ads which are silent, static and don't need 3rd party scripts slinging malware at me. The landscape is changing and you have to adapt. Treating your potential customers as the enemy and accusing them of theft isn't going to win you any friends.

            6. raving angry loony

              Re: snooping my machine

              Since the various advertisers hide behind distributors, 3rd party providers, and a host of other slimy practices that don't let us choose the ad provider, I CANNOT "not" visit sites with "bad" ads because they ALL have "bad" ads. At least all the ones I've visited without a blocker. The only "good" ads I've seen are those that, somehow, filter through all my blocks and still make it to my screen. Usually ads related to the website itself rather than fed through the usual slimy 3rd parties that the porn sites pioneered and that your industry seems to love.

              So the only choices I have are "get off the internet" or "block all you dishonest scum sucking goat fuckers". Since I'm not going to get off the internet, I chose to block you.

              Sadly, your industry is too deluded, too stupid, too wrapped up in your "advertising is good" model that you cannot possibly comprehend the fact that by hiding your origins you're hurting yourself. By attempting to foist your crap on EVERY website, you're hurting yourself. But you can't accept that, so you blame everyone else but yourself.

              Fine. Do so. I don't care you who blame. But don't be surprised when I, and a growing number of others, block your dishonest, corrupt, stupid, ignorant, slimy adverts from our screens. On EVERY website.

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: snooping my machine

            raving Angry.... I'd agree with that, and add that web advertisers seem to have a strange, naive and frankly insulting view that it is acceptable and necessary to bully and shout their ads at us. And when you are faced with bullies you have to fight back.

            And FWIW the content belongs to the web site hosting the ads, but the internet that hosts the content doesn't. So it's not as simple as "Don't like the ads, don't view the site". If essential content is provided ( or commandeered ) by a site for profit ( which is fair enough) they have to behave responsibly as citizens of the net.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: snooping my machine

          '"But at the end of the chain the only way we have of expressing a preference for good quality advertising versus random malware is to install ad blockers. "

          Wrong. Actually, the contrary is true: ad blocking is what eliminates any expression of preference'

          Please enlighten us. If he's wrong to say it's the only way then there must be another. What is it?

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: snooping my machine

          Ad blocking is not the solution, but the very problem that makes ads larger and more obtrusive."

          You're missing the point. People are blocking ads in growing numbers BECAUSE they are more and more intrusive and obnoxious. Worse, the ad industry has utterly failed at policing itself by vetting ads for malware and allowing themselves to be hijacked to such an extent that even IT illiterate users are installing ad blockers.

          As I said in another post, I don't use an ad blocker. I do, however, use NoScript. If the advertisers want me to see ads then they can deliver them in a way that is unlikely to allow malware through to my system, just like they used to.

        4. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: snooping my machine

          Periodically, on a machine that can be reformatted after use, I (automated test running browser on a list of URIs) try a large mixture of sites with none of my usual blocking tools so browser is exposed to the full ad experience.

          Every time there have been one or more attempts to foist malware on the machine (in addition to lots of intrusive ads, autoplay video etc).

          N.B. I did use both a real PC and a VM, but noticed the VM received less infection attempts from hotting exactly the same list of sites, my best guess is some of the exploit kits have some VM detection ability and so behave "legit" if VM is detected. So, as a VM seems less reliable at detecting malware attempts I do not use that.

          Which nicely illustrates why ad block /script protection tools tend to be always on for many peoples "everyday use device", as not worth the risk of disabling protection to see if a site is safe as the consequences can be very nasty.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: snooping my machine

        Voyna Well put.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: snooping my machine

        "legitimate advertisers would want to display effective ads to the people who might actually buy stuff."

        The level of disconnect between the people actually selling stuff and those who force the adverts for that stuff in your face is amazing.

        An example I like to use from 2 decades ago is newspaper advertising: $1500 of adverts in the local regional rag got $20 in business. Radio and TV adverts (or even a classified in a far larger paper from another city) got rates of return at least 10:1

        The response from the local rag when informed of this was a proposal for an even bigger campaign costing 10 times as much - and the guarantee of increased business they offered in the first instance was waved away as non-binding. needless to say they didn't get any repeat advertising.

        More recently (10-12 years ago) I ran into some totally obnoxious advertising online (spam and popups) and realising it was a local business made contact. They had been sold campaigns by a similar set of cowboys as the local newspaper, with glowing (and as it turned out, faked) references.

        They had _lost_ business as a result of the adverts and were fighting off a steady stream of complaints. The owner described it as one of the worst decisions she'd ever made.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: snooping my machine

      Quote

      Your ad blocker is interfering with the operation of this site.

      Wrong. It is not interfering with the operation of the site. You are just filtering out the crap they want to put on your screen.

      I used to think that come the revolution, at the top of the list for the chop would be the lawyers and at the front of them would be those who'd become Politicians. Now I'd put the Ad Agencies and Ad slinging companies up there with them.

      Personally, I eschew all online ads. If someone or something thinks I might be interested in something then the rebel in me says, 'Eff Off' and I go out of my way to avoid all things that are made by that company.

      ANY ADVERT TARGETTED AT ME IS NOT GOING TO GET A SALE.

      Get it?

      The same goes for anyone trying to flog me a product under the veil of marketing surveys.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: snooping my machine

        "ANY ADVERT TARGETTED AT ME IS NOT GOING TO GET A SALE."

        I can only upvote you once. Please accept my apologies.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm with him

    Oh, excellent.

    I would relate it to breaking and entering.

  17. dkjd

    So google will make/sell a cookie that allows you to globally agree to not having adblockers. What has the world gained now? SFA.

  18. Alexander Hanff 1

    Why are you guys even bothering to respond to FF22 (I no longer will) he is quite obviously an industry troll. Here are the facts:

    Adblock detection tools store and execute scripts on the client to detect behaviour of that client (are they using an adblocker).

    The EU Commission state (very clearly in their letter to me) that this is illegal - the EU Commission wrote the law.

    The Regulators have stated (in my discussions with them) that this is illegal - the Regulators enforce the law.

    So again, why are we responding to some random industry troll who neither wrote the law (and therefore knows what it is meant to do) nor enforces the law?

    Don't feed the troll.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Don't feed the troll."

      But he's so entertaining when he loses it.

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      To be fair, as much as I don't like it, I personally think he's got a potentially valid argument on this one:

      > Adblock detection tools store and execute scripts on the client to detect behaviour of that client (are they using an adblocker).

      He's entirely correct that the only storage in use is the cache, which the publisher has little to no control over, and shouldn't really be considered persistent storage in the way the cookie jar is.

      On the other hand, that doesn't automatically mean the EPD doesn't apply - it'd be for a court to determine. And he can't be ignorant to the fact that finding out would likely be prohibitively expensive for the advertiser on the receiving end. Far better to fix the behaviour IMO.

      He's also right that the response seems to be based on the assumption that scripts are stored, so, again, the above applies - would need to be determined by a court.

      But, he definitely seems to be pushing an agenda, and weakens what could be a valid point with some completely out-there arguments.

  19. Palpy

    @FF22

    "But with ad blocking on, you are not only eliminating that feedback loop [ie, viewer passing judgment on ad quality], but are also forcing publishers to show more obtrusive ads to the remaining non-adblocking folks, because now they will have to cover also the costs of serving you with those ads."

    This is utter cow-dookie.

    As currently practiced, nearly all advertising is propaganda, not information; the communication model is exploitative, not consensual. It is not driven by user feedback. It is driven by the predator-prey paradigm used by the advertising industry: like predators, the advertisers evolve the most effective methods for "catching the prey" -- for pulling viewer attention away from whatever content or purpose the viewer had, and redirecting it to "Get Rid of Unsightly Belly Fat" instead.

    "Feedback" as you describe is a non-starter.

    Proof: Eliminating advertising, by using NoScript and uBlock Origin, Disconnect and Ghostery, has done what decades of "feedback by choice" never even started to do. It has made advertisers take notice. The fact that they are panicking is proof that adblockers are changing the system.

    Kudos to webmasters who use, or used, static ads, vetted and safe ads, non-intrusive ads. Perhaps the large ad companies will follow suit. Or become irrelevant and die. Either one is a win.

    1. FF22

      Re: @FF22

      @Palpy "It has made advertisers take notice. The fact that they are panicking is proof that adblockers are changing the system."

      Wrong. The advertisers are not panicking. Actually, they couldn't care less. They only pay for ads that are not blocked - so ad blocking does not harm them. It also does not force them to make their ads better or less obtrusive.

      It's the publishers, who provide content and services to you, who are taking the loss. Creating that content and providing those services to you costs them money, and they cover those costs with the money they get from the advertiser in return for showing their ads to you along their content and services.

      But if you're blocking ads, then they can't show ads to you, and don't get money to cover the costs of serving you. Because of that, they will either have to show more and more ads to the remaining users, who don't yet block ads (which in turn will make those also want to block ads), and/or will have to cut back on the amount and quality of service they provide to you. It's a downward spiral, that ends in the publishers publishing junk content and/or going out of business, and with them their free services also gone from the web.

      So, by blocking ads you're creating that downward spiral for every site that provides services free of charge to you. And if you keep blocking ads, all those sites will cease to exists or explicitly charge you cash for their services. And no, you won't be able to just go to another site from there on, because all those other sites are financed the exact same way, and they will be all gone or charge you cash for their services.

      And the advertisers? They will be still laughing their asses off. They won't be affected by this at all. The only one who will lose out will be the publishers, and you, as a user, who won't have access to free content and free services any more.

      As I already said: ad blocking is not the solution, but the problem itself. That's a fact, and you not realizing it won't change that, unfortunately.

      "Kudos to webmasters who use, or used, static ads, vetted and safe ads, non-intrusive ads."

      Doesn't matter whether they do, because ad blockers block also those ads. That's the whole point I'm making. Ad blockers take any and all incentive from making ads better (whatever that might mean), because ad blockers can't and don't even try to asses the quality of the ads. Ad blockers don't reward good ads.

      Only the users themselves could do that (both evaluate and reward better ads), but only then, if they'd actually see the ads, and would pick between sites based on how good the ads they show to them are. But people using ad blockers explicitly exclude themselves from that possibility, and are thus actively contributing to ads becoming worse and worse, while also killing free content and services for themselves (and everybody else) in the process.

      Ad blocking is no win situation for everyone - both publishers and users. And the advertisers just don't care, they are not affected by all that. Their CEOs will still earn millions of dollars each year.

      1. captain veg

        Re: Ad blocking is no win situation for everyone - both publishers and users.

        It most certainly is not.

        The problem is the current ad-serving model. A page directly contains content, which I want to see, and some links to external embeds, which I might or might not be interested in. Those links are invitations to my browser to fetch additional content and inject it into the page. My browser is entirely free to ignore those invitations. It offers me an option, for example, to not download images, which is useful when bandwidth is tight. But when it comes to ad-serving, the invitation is to hop off to some third party server and get some random (so far as I am concerned) and totally unprovenanced content from there. It could be anything. It could be malicious. It is quite likely to be annoying, or be otherwise detrimental to my experience of the page. Is it any wonder that more and more people are saying no thanks?

        If enough of us do, the model dies. This does not mean the death of online advertising, just of third-party ad-serving. Publishers are free to do as traditional media have always done: review the ads, judge their suitability and compatibility with the primary content, and embed them DIRECTLY in it.

        Advertisers will have to try harder with production values. Publishers will regain control of their ratecards. Users will not be exposed to potentially dangerous crap.

        Everyone wins.

        -A.

        1. FF22

          Re: Ad blocking is no win situation for everyone - both publishers and users.

          "If enough of us do, the model dies. This does not mean the death of online advertising, just of third-party ad-serving. Publishers are free to do as traditional media have always done: review the ads, judge their suitability and compatibility with the primary content, and embed them DIRECTLY in it."

          Too bad this is not true, because ad blocker are out to block all ads, whether served locally or remotely. The just want to get rid of ads, all of them.

          Also, even if local ads would be not blocked, they could be served less effectively, less targeted and more costly than in the current, centralized/distributed model. That would mean that sites would have to show more and bigger ads to generate the same amount of revenue they do now - which then again obviously would be a basis for ad blockers to complain, and to block even those local ads.

          It's pretty simple that the usual "reasons" brought up on the side of ad blocking are all just feel-good excuses, that try to paint the picture like if users would be only the victims and publishers would be the bad guys, who are rightfully deprived of their income, and who are seriously expected to provide service and generate content for everybody for free.

          But the sad truth is, that ad blockers are the actual perpetrators who rape honest publishers of their well-deserved income for their hard work that goes into building and operating a site, a service, and generating content, free of charge for the users. And they are no better and not much different than ordinary shoplifters and thieves, who do the very same thing similarly honest shop owners.

          1. captain veg

            Re: Ad blocking is no win situation for everyone - both publishers and users.

            > ad blocker are out to block all ads, whether served locally or remotely.

            With all due respect, that is unmitigated tosh. If you really believe it, then you understand neither how HTML nor ad-blockers actually work.

            > even if local ads would be not blocked, they could be served less effectively, less targeted and more costly than in the current, centralized/distributed model

            Well, it's an opinion. Apart from the "more costly" part, it is also demonstrably false.

            The only thing going for the current model is cheap impressions. And it's killing publishers. Along the way it is also damaging the content, encouraging click-bait and poor production values, so degrading the experience for users too. The only people profitting from this are the likes of Google.

            If any industry required a bit of "disintermediation", it's this one.

            > they are no better and not much different than ordinary shoplifters and thieves

            Really, this is desparate stuff. Shop owners do not place their wares in a public space and invite the public to take as much as they like on condition that they send off a self-addressed envelope to some third party who will use it to return junk mail to them. It's a business model that is deeply broken, and that's not our fault.

            -A.

            1. FF22

              Re: Ad blocking is no win situation for everyone - both publishers and users.

              "Well, it's an opinion. Apart from the "more costly" part, it is also demonstrably false."

              And yet, you failed to demonstrate that. Actually, you didn't even made an attempt to. One wonders why? Could it be that even you don't believe and have no rationale for what you're saying? Could that be?

              "The only thing going for the current model is cheap impressions. And it's killing publishers."

              By increasing their costs through somehow forcing them to acquire and serve ads all in-house, you obviously wouldn't be helping them either. Not that it would matter - because as already explained, ad blocker don't differentiate between local and 3rd party ads, and are out there to block them all. Just saying, that your argument makes no sense whatever even then, if we're not considering the whole picture.

              "Really, this is desparate stuff. Shop owners do not place their wares in a public space and invite the public to take as much"

              They place their stuff in the public exactly as much as publishers do. You can walk into any shop, just like you can visit any website. But just as a shop, a website is also private property, where you have no more rights to be and consume stuff, than what the owner has granted you. And if you consume or are taking stuff, you're obliged to pay for it. Just like you do in a shop, in a restaurant. Everything else is just cheap excuses.

              "It's a business model that is deeply broken, and that's not our fault."

              It is your fault. The business model is only broken by you, ad blockers. And it's broken only as much, as is a shop's business model broken by thieves. The problem is not with the shop and not with the websites, but with the thieves and ad blockers. Get rid of them, and the purported problem with the business models also vanishes. And that's exactly what anti ad blockers are doing.

              1. captain veg

                Re: Ad blocking is no win situation for everyone - both publishers and users.

                > And yet, you failed to demonstrate that

                I didn't fail to do anything at all. Demonstrable means "capable of being demonstrated". That I have better things to do with my life than to spell out the obvious to cretins is not a failure on my part.

                > because as already explained, ad blocker don't differentiate between local and 3rd party ads

                You have failed to explain any such thing. Which is understandable, since it is wholly false.

                > They place their stuff in the public exactly as much as publishers do.

                No they don't. There are these things called "shops" which are private property.

                I have belatedly realised that Hanff is right. You are a troll. Now fornicate elsewhere and decease forthwith.

                -A.

          2. quattroprorocked

            Re: Ad blocking is no win situation for everyone - both publishers and users.

            For the record I was a publisher and this is tosh.

            For as long as the "hard work" fails to include "runs a safe ads system", publishers ain't working hard enough to get paid for ad views. It's like a garage saying, "well we fixed most of the problems with your car, but we haven't checked the brakes. We don't check the brakes. Checking the brakes is too much like hard work. What do you mean you don't want to pay us until we've checked the brakes?".

            Just fix the ads FFS and be done with it.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: @FF22

        "So, by blocking ads you're creating that downward spiral for every site that provides services free of charge to you."

        No. There are a couple of alternatives.

        One is that they serve the ads from their own servers. They'd have to vet them for malvertising. They'd have to consider whether they'd be sufficiently annoying to drive traffic away.

        The other is to offer paid for content.

        As far as I can see we have a situation where internet users are thoroughly pissed off with ads. Advertisers are getting ripped off because they're paying to piss off potential customers but they don't get any feedback about the extent of negative reactions.

        The advertising industry and publishers have, up to now, been coining it because there's been no way to the public to avoid what they don't like. Now there is.

        The model which has victimised the public and ripped off the advertisers is failing.

        It's not surprising that they (advertising industry and publishers) are trying to force the issue; they're so full of themselves that they haven't realised the game's up

        The biggest service FF22 could do for their masters is to report back the reality out here - that their modus operandi is really, really hated by those who they are trying to influence and that that is counter-productive to what they're trying to achieve for the advertisers*. That the good days are over and they aren't coming back. Only when that sinks in will they finally get round to doing what they need to do - come up with a model that is acceptable to the public.

        *If anything. The cynic in me says that maybe they're not trying to achieve anything except get paid and the one product that the advertising industry successfully advertises is itself to the clients.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: @FF22

        "And the advertisers? They will be still laughing their asses off. They won't be affected by this at all. "

        I don't think you understand how your own industry works. Yes, the advertiser doesn't pay for the ads not seen due to ad-blockers. But that also means they sold fewer ads. Which in turn means the people paying for the ad campaign will pay less. Or be less happy so go somewhere else.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: @FF22

          "I don't think you understand how your own industry works."

          Of course he does. That's why he's here - because of the panic.

        2. FF22

          Re: @FF22

          "Yes, the advertiser doesn't pay for the ads not seen due to ad-blockers. But that also means they sold fewer ads. Which in turn means the people paying for the ad campaign will pay less. "

          Wrong. They will pay the same amount or even more. Why? Because advertisers will just shift ad formats and channels that are not blockable. Like billboard advertising. Or television advertising. Or sponsored content. Or native advertising.

          And also because prices are determined by supply and demand. And just because web sites won't be able to show banner ads anymore, the demand won't be less for advertising. So that will raise the price of advertising through other channels and other formats.

          Which, however, in turn are less effective, less targeted. This will again drive the price of advertising up. So while free web sites and services will all perish, because they won't be able to even just cover their costs, other media, where you can't block ads, will flourish. And they will earn even more through unblockable ads.

          Ads will cost more, both per unit, and also in grand total, because the system will be less effective, there will be less competition, and the barriers to entry will be higher. Everybody will lose out, except for the owners and employers of those unblockable advertising channels/formats.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: @FF22

            "Wrong. They will pay the same amount or even more. Why? Because advertisers will just shift ad formats and channels that are not blockable. Like billboard advertising. Or television advertising. Or sponsored content. Or native advertising."

            So, you are saying I'm right but for subtly different reasons. The ad companies have to spend more on R&D and more on ad placement marketing to find out how to get the same number of ads placed. That either cuts into there profits or they put their prices up and the people buying the ads may go elsewhere.

            1. FF22

              Re: @FF22

              "So, you are saying I'm right but for subtly different reasons."

              No. What I'm saying is that you're confusing advertisers, publishers and agencies all over the place, and are making false generalizations about them. You think ad blocking hurts advertisers and forces agencies to make better ads - but it does nothing alike. It's only killing the publishers and the free services on an independent web. However ads and advertisers will not be affected by it at all. That's what I'm saying, and that's what you're obviously failing to understand.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: @FF22

      "Kudos to webmasters who use, or used, static ads, vetted and safe ads, non-intrusive ads. Perhaps the large ad companies will follow suit. Or become irrelevant and die. Either one is a win."

      No, the ones using unobtrusive ads will just wither on the vine because no one pays attention to them. The reason ads are more obnoxious is because, as you note, it's the only way to get their attention. It's been that way for decades. Even E. E. Smith noted this, way back in the onset of World War II. People get numb to ads, so the ads have to be more attention-getting. Eventually, there will reach a breaking point. Either customers succumb to the ads or the medium itself is abandoned. Thing is, the advertisers are wise to new media and will be waiting for you wherever you go. Think mobile ads, which are frequently of the take-it-or-don't-use-the-app kind now (and with root detection increasing, escapes are shrinking).

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: @FF22

        "The reason ads are more obnoxious is because, as you note, it's the only way to get their attention."

        The only reason the advertisers want attention is to positively influence the viewer. Obnoxious may get attention but it isn't going to be positive.

      2. illiad

        Re: @FF22 no one pays attention to them??

        Ha HA Ha... have you ever noticed a very good ad on tv, BUT cannot remember WHAT is was advertising????

        what ever ads are for, how many actually USE them???

        If companies pay for static ads, that is the only way they get used - the website can pay for its stuff, but it is up to the reader, whether he does ANYTHING...

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: @FF22 no one pays attention to them??

          "have you ever noticed a very good ad on tv, BUT cannot remember WHAT is was advertising????"

          You may not be able to remember the specific product or company the advert was about consciously but it will be embedded somewhere in your subconscious, even if not associated with the advert. That's when advertising truly works; you take notice of a good advert, and that helps the product tuck itself away into a little nook or cranny in your mind.

          1. illiad

            Re: @FF22 no one pays attention to them??

            LOLOL the dream of an ad man...

            stop spending lots of cash on fancy actors and animation, do it straight, like virgin..

            I've got 200 Mb/s.... get it now!!! :) they many have limited coverage, yes, but they DO NOT have BT's stupidity keeping them down!

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: @FF22 no one pays attention to them??

            "you take notice of a good advert, and that helps the product tuck itself away into a little nook or cranny in your mind."

            A long time ago i took note of a series of good ads. Brits of a certain age will remember the Hamlet ads - witty and even a fragment of JS Bach. As far as I was concerned it never did them a bit of good because I've never smoked.

            1. VinceH Silver badge

              Captain! The edge of the world...

              "A long time ago i took note of a series of good ads. Brits of a certain age will remember the Hamlet ads - witty and even a fragment of JS Bach. As far as I was concerned it never did them a bit of good because I've never smoked."

              Yeah, they were entertaining. (And the same applies here; non-smoker).

              Not buying the product because you and I are non-smokers, however, doesn't change the principal at work. In fact, I can't think of any other brand of cigar - so if I was to take up smoking, and specifically cigars, which brand am I going to initially think of?

              (Whether they still exist all these years later, of course, is another matter.)

            2. a pressbutton
              Pint

              Re: @FF22 no one pays attention to them?? - Hamlet Ads

              Air on a G string - JS Bach

              Introduced me to classical music

              Have a pint for reminding me

            3. Vic

              Re: @FF22 no one pays attention to them??

              A long time ago i took note of a series of good ads. Brits of a certain age will remember the Hamlet ads - witty and even a fragment of JS Bach. As far as I was concerned it never did them a bit of good because I've never smoked.

              And how many times have you reminded other people of their advert?

              That ad and many others of its ilk were advertising masterpieces - they got *us* to republish them. How many times have you said "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label"? Look how many times you read the word "Simples" in forum postings. And who is this J. R. Hartley anyway?

              So despite not being a part of their immediate target audience, do not for one moment believe that you were not influenced by the campaign, nor that your seeing those ads did the advertiser no good; the opposite is clearly true...

              Vic.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: @FF22 no one pays attention to them??

                'How many times have you said "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label"?'

                None.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is so stupid.

    Leave it to the commentards on this site to bash before thinking and proceeds to get loads of upvotes for it.

    Ad-blocker scripts sure might ask your browser on what you're running, but so does all javascript based analytic tools and guess what, I'm going to place my entire fortune on a bet that a lot of websites that relies on javascript to do certain processing workload will do some type of "probing" so that it can determine the correct version of codes to load and use to avoid browser specific bugs, for example.

    This hardly change anything anyway (if it's even legally correct or enforceable), it simply all means an extra blurb will be added to the cookie notice.

    The real question is, when calling a javascript function that's readily available, and your browser is happy to oblige, whether it is classified as a "probe" or invasion of "privacy" or whether it is a request to data that has been made "public" simply due to the fact that they are standard functions of javascript and your browser readily exposes such details when asked.

    Besides, there are certain techniques that doesn't require adblocker blocker scripts to access your browser details.

    I'm just here to point out the flaws btw, I have no opinion whatsoever on ad-blockers, I use them myself, but you also have to recognise some people relies on ad revenues and deservedly so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is so stupid.

      "Besides, there are certain techniques that doesn't require adblocker blocker scripts to access your browser details."

      For example, if each page served to a user is unique with a key and an ad signature and the ad site pings the publisher with that signature when it's served, then the publisher can know whether or not the ad was served without ever querying the user. Servers can always tell if something is being loaded or not, and references can be attached to the pages and read from requests: all standard practice and actually necessary in places. If this is what is necessary to stay within the law, they'll take the performance hit to avoid the legal trouble. And for the user, the only way around this is to "pretend" to load the ad, which defeats the purpose in regards to bandwidth saving and demographics blocking.

  21. Brian Miller 1

    @FF22

    I guess that means that streaming video isn't a recording or stored on a client computer and so is not a violation of copyright then?

    Another question on your logic, if the anti-adblock program doesn't infiltrate the clients memory space how can it possibly know what information was displayed on a client browser?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: @FF22

      "Another question on your logic, if the anti-adblock program doesn't infiltrate the clients memory space how can it possibly know what information was displayed on a client browser?"

      The server would know on its own end just what parts of the web page got requested (it's basically how the protocol works). If the server is designed to make every page served unique, it can distinguish just which users are blocking ads just by noting which ads are being called up (if the ads are a third party, it and the third party can check with each other without involving the user).

    2. FF22

      Re: @FF22

      "I guess that means that streaming video isn't a recording or stored on a client computer and so is not a violation of copyright then?"

      You question is completely irrelevant in this topic, because it's neither about advertising, nor about data protection. Which you are obviously confusing with copyright.

      "if the anti-adblock program doesn't infiltrate the clients memory space how can it possibly know what information was displayed on a client browser?"

      Your question is loaded, which is a logical fallacy. Also, it can or could know by the fact, that said information was not requested from the server. The third thing: nobody said that anti ad blockers do not get somehow into the memory of the client computer. They might do that, but if they do, they are deliberately loaded there by the browser on the users behalf. And that's not illegal.

  22. Kaltern

    *ponders*

    The argument about us not paying for the content we read... we didn't buy anything, so why would we pay for it - in any way?

    It's a companies choice to use the web - no-one is forcing them. If they believe that ads are the only way they're going to make money... then perhaps they should start charging a subscription fee.

    Ads should be opt IN - if you want to support this website, tick this box [_]

    If not, have a great day.

    Calling visitors freeloaders is not really the way forward.

    Besides, do ads REALLY make that much money? I mean, let's look at El Reg for a moment. I'm imagining they sell advertising space, possibly with a click target. That's income right there, and I imagine it's not a small amount of cash, plenty to run the site and pay the bills.

    watchmebathe.org* is covered with Google ads, those really irritating full-screen video ads, and various '25 reasons to not shave with sulfuric acid' clickbaits. I seriously can't imagine that making anywhere close to what El Reg makes for selling ad space.

    I sometimes wonder if I really understand the world of internet advertising at all in fact.

    * Not a real website. Probably. I never checked.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "If they believe that ads are the only way they're going to make money... then perhaps they should start charging a subscription fee."

      Ever thought the ad revenues will be greater than ANY subscription fee will ever bring in?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Ever thought the ad revenues will be greater than ANY subscription fee will ever bring in?"

        In the past, maybe. The old model worked by an arrogant industry doing exactly whatever pleased them, using the consumer's paid-for bandwidth to insult the consumer's intelligence with inanities and offend their senses with offensively attention-grabbing gimmicks. To that has now been added the delivery of malware.

        In the past the consumers had to put up with it because there was no defence; now there is so that old model is no longer viable. Those revenues are no longer going to be available. The publishers are going to have to rethink their business model.

        Let's remember there are four groups involved here:

        1. The actual advertisers - those who have products or services to sell.

        2. The advertising industry.

        3. The web-site publishers.

        4. The public.

        1 wants to favourably influence 4. 4 wants to use the product of 3. 3 wants to be paid. Currently 2 sells its services to 1 and pays 3 to impose its product on 4.

        The rise of ad-blockers quite unequivocally tells us one thing: 4 doesn't like 2's product. It shouldn't take too much reasoning to conclude that this dislike will wash over onto 1. When 1 actually cotton onto that fact it really is game over for 2. In fact 2 really ought to be keeping quiet about the whole thing and the only reason I can come up with as to why they aren't is that they're so full of themselves that they really think they can overcome ad-blockers.

        So far the only solutions 2 have are to persuade 3 to block 4 (which ends up having 4's dislike spill over onto 3) and to have folk like FF22 stand on the sidelines yelling at 4 to the effect that 4 really do like the advertising or some such nonsense. That isn't going to work if only because malvertising is making ad-blocking a required part of users' security alongside anti-virus. There are a few possible outcomes:

        2 get their house in order. They reign back on the offensive adverts and they get a firm hold on malvertising. They then persuade 4 that it's OK to stop blocking on the basis that they really have cleaned up. The longer they keep up with their present ideas the more difficult that becomes.

        3 adopt a different business model, either by subscription or by hosting vetted ads themselves. This to a greater or lesser extent cuts out 2, especially the "creative" element of 2 that's responsible for creating the obnoxiousness.

        3 go out of business taking 2 with them.

        1 get the message and walk away from the whole mess taking out 2 & 3.

        What's the best option for 2?

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          " In fact 2 really ought to be keeping quiet about the whole thing and the only reason I can come up with as to why they aren't is that they're so full of themselves that they really think they can overcome ad-blockers."

          Or they can see the writing.

          The writing that's on the wall.

          As far as I'm concerned, the only solution is for 3 to adopt a different business model: Either take static adverts (no scripts, no sound - animations are okay as long as they aren't stupidly large) directly from the advertisers, or take subscriptions.

          2 can just go out of business.

          Or mostly, anyway. Not everyone in 2 has to lose out here; there are undoubtedly some talented people doing the graphic work; they can subcontract their services out to party 1 to design those static adverts. They'll have to disassociate themselves with the knob head element of the industry.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "2 can just go out of business. Or mostly, anyway."

            Exactly.

            There are a lot of no-talent. no imagination hacks in the advertising industry and they're the kind of personality who gravitate to the "more intrusive" scale of adverts.

            Loading them onto the B Ark is a fate too good for them.

        2. FF22

          @Doctor Syntax You obviously keep missing the point, that bringing ad acquirement and serving in-house will not solve most problems with advertising, but will just deepen them and create additional ones.

          For ex. let's take the problem of the amount and obtrusiveness of ads. If acquirement and serving will be brought in-house by the publishers, that will mean that they will have to employ now additional people to what they did previously, because they will now have to have ad sales people (or more of them than they did previously) that directly sell to advertisers. They will also have to invest into additional equipment (ad servers, which was done previously by a 3rd party), sysadmins who run those new servers, etc. These will all drive up their operating cost, which in turn will force them to display more and more obtrusive ads to cover those raised expenses.

          But we can also take the problem of malvertising. This is caused by malicious entities hacking the ad servers or submitting covertly malicious ads to the ad network. Now, do you think that those thousands and millions of small publishers who should - according to you - bring their ad acquirement and serving in house, will be more capable or securing their ad servers and verify the ads submitted against hidden threats and abuse, than were big companies, like Google, who can pay the best network engineers, security expert, efficiently run a malware detection network, etc? Obviously they will be not. So by bringing ads all in-house, the problem of malvertising will also be worsened, not only from the cost side, but also from the threat side.

          And I could go on with practically all the other issues with ads, and say the same thing about them: in-house acquirement can only make almost all of them worse.

          So, no, what you propose is not a solution for these problems, but what would make them worse. There's a reason why the industry have switched away from that model, which it originally used, and why it's using centralized ad serving now. It's because the latter more efficient, more secure, and practically best in almost every single way, than in-house ad sales and ad serving. At least it is for the millions of small web sites that make up the majority of the web, and that already struggle to keep their costs covered.

          And now take a moment to think about the fact, that if you couldn't judge this problem right, and proposed something as a solution that in reality just worsens everything, how good could you assess other issues with ad blocking, ad-sponsored content, etc, which you have a strong opinion on, but which are most likely just as misguided and wrong as your opinion on this issue?

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            " they will now have to have ad sales people (or more of them than they did previously) that directly sell to advertisers. They will also have to invest into additional equipment (ad servers, which was done previously by a 3rd party), sysadmins who run those new servers, etc. These will all drive up their operating cost, which in turn will force them to display more and more obtrusive ads to cover those raised expenses."

            All these costs. Would they be new as opposed to existing at present? Of course not. There are ad sales people currently selling advertising space to advertisers. There is currently server capacity delivering the ads (make the ads less obnoxious and there'd be less capacity needed). The cost is there. Maybe not identical but it's there. Who pays? Not the advertising industry. The advertisers pay. They'd still pay but the costs would be distributed differently.

            But there's one thing you haven't addressed in any reply. That's what the presence of ad-blocking is telling you: users are repelled by the ads.

            There's no getting around that. The more ads intrude the more they're disliked. And it's not the advertising networks and agencies that receive the opprobrium; they're faceless. It's the advertisers' names that are on the ads. They get the dislike. And once they finally wake up to that and start to walk away the industry has had it. It's not the ad-blockers that are the disease. It's the ads themselves and the reputation they've gained. The blockers are just the immunological reaction.

            I've said elsewhere, the best service you can do for your industry is to report back the reaction and tell them that they need to get to work to make themselves publicly acceptable although I suppose there may be a tendency to shoot the messenger in which case you have my sympathy.

            1. FF22

              "All these costs. Would they be new as opposed to existing at present? Of course not."

              Of course they would be "new". They would be extra cost on top of the costs that are already there and have to be covered. That's what I'm saying.

              "There are ad sales people currently selling advertising space to advertisers."

              No. Most small publications don't have that. They just join a big ad network, which does all that for them. The only thing those small publications do is embed some code in their web pages and print a bill every month. Ads are sold, acquired, run and served by the big ad network, which is a 3rd party in this case. if you would want to bring all ads in-hose, you'd have to replace all the sales people, all the infrastructure of that ad network with your own. Which wouldn't make sense and wouldn't be affordable for most small publications. Even if they would, they'd raise the costs of operation by magnitudes.

              And even if publication have already sales people, if they would bring all the advertising in-house which is done now by third parties, they would need even more sales people, just to bring in the same amount of advertising. However, most big corporations just couldn't bother to negotiate with the small publishers, so these would ultimately lose out on these deals even then, when they hired extra sales people.

              "The cost is there. Maybe not identical but it's there. "

              The "maybe not identical" is the whole point. The current system with 3rd party ad acquirement and serving is magnitudes more effective, than could be a fully in-house system. It also lowers the barrier to entry, which again means lower costs because of greater competition. All this would be gone if all ads would have to be run in-house, which would simply not be an option for most small publications. And medium publications would have to show far more ads than they do not, just to cover their costs to the same fraction they do now.

              "But there's one thing you haven't addressed in any reply. That's what the presence of ad-blocking is telling you: users are repelled by the ads."

              Yeah. Some people are greedy, and want to have everything, but give nothing. So what? That's human nature for some. Doesn't mean it's acceptable and that it should be the norm.

              "The more ads intrude the more they're disliked."

              That's why ad blocking is generating a downward spiral. It does not solve anything, but only escalates the problem.

              "It's the ads themselves and the reputation they've gained. The blockers are just the immunological reaction."

              No. Ad blockers are parasites that are ultimately killing the host system. Which in this case is the free and independent web.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                'Of course they would be "new". They would be extra cost on top of the costs that are already there and have to be covered. That's what I'm saying.'

                Really? These ads that are being thrust at users - you're telling me that they don't come from servers? They just come out of the ether?

                Of course they come from servers. It's a question of whose servers. Instead of paying the ad networks to run the servers the advertisers pay the publishers. When all's said and done they may even be in the same server farm, even the same servers re-purposed.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "I've said elsewhere, the best service you can do for your industry is to report back the reaction and tell them that they need to get to work to make themselves publicly acceptable..."

              Many of these businesses are in a position where they're not going to be liked no matter what. They're "dirty job" types of businesses where people don't go to them unless they HAVE to. As the saying goes, "Haters gonna hate," so you're in for the proverbial pound anyway. In which case, you HAVE to get in their subconscious so that when the times comes when they HAVE to get the dirty job done, they pick the first thing out of their mind and get it over with.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "But we can also take the problem of malvertising. This is caused by malicious entities hacking the ad servers or submitting covertly malicious ads to the ad network."

            And your contention is that we should allow such servers and networks access to our computers? ROFLMAO

      2. Alexander Hanff 1

        Average ad revenues per year per user for publisher is less than £0.50 according to industry reports. Wired are currently charging > 8x that per month for their subscription.

        This is one of the problems with subscription models - for some reason publishers think it is sensible to charge literally hundreds of times the amount they would get per user per year for their subscription fees. £50 per year is not a sustainable model for subscription to online content (per site) it will fail and is down to sheer greed.

        Publishers need to either start forming group subscription models where users gain access to many publications giving those publishers revenues which are inline with ad revenues if they want to replace ads with subscriptions - or - they need to reduce their subscription costs to micropayment levels inline with ad revenues.

        But they do the opposite - they try to charge ridiculous subscription fees far far higher than the revenues they make per user from advertising and then guess what - they still throw advertising in as well - and wonder why subscription numbers are so low?

        Then the go down another illegal route and start pushing "branded content" (aka native content or "advertorials"). I was at a publishing event in Paris just a week ago and they were talking about adblocking - their solution? Disguise advertising as content - again this is also illegal.

        It beggars belief.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          They have to charge like that because you have to take into account the users who won't abide by paywalls. Once they go up, many users go away, so you have to figure the ratio of balkers to buyers in your subscription fee since you have to recover the revenues you once got from ad views by balkers.

          1. Vic

            They have to charge like that because you have to take into account the users who won't abide by paywalls. Once they go up, many users go away

            It strikes me that you could do a pledge system; have a sign-up page where users can commit to paying either a fixed amount[1] or maybe even a volunteered amount - then, at the start of the year, if there is enough pledge money, the adverts go away for a year for everyone. If not, they remain.

            Vic.

            [1] The site could suggest an amount - e.g. the expected ad revenue divided by the number of us badge holders.

        2. FF22

          @Alexander Hanff 1 "Average ad revenues per year per user for publisher is less than £0.50 according to industry reports. Wired are currently charging > 8x that per month for their subscription."

          And why is that? Because managing subscriptions requires extra resources and incurs extra cost. You've to sell to and support tens of hundreds of thousands of users, instead of just a few big clients, that you've to do with ad-supported model. This obviously requires a larger staff, which in turn requires more revenue/user to be sustainable.

          "This is one of the problems with subscription models - for some reason publishers think it is sensible to charge literally hundreds of times the amount they would get per user per year for their subscription fees."

          That reason is called: economic rationality and covering the costs. Serving a subscriber costs more than serving an ad-supported user, so you've to charge more for a subscription, than what you make on an ad-supported user.

          "Publishers need to either start forming group subscription models where users gain access to many publications"

          Yeah. And newspapers need to start forming subscription models where users gain access to many newspapers. Or banks need to start forming subscription models where users gain access to many account with a single credit card. Etc. That's obviously not how things work.

          "giving those publishers revenues which are inline with ad revenues if they want to replace ads with subscriptions - or - they need to reduce their subscription costs to micropayment levels inline with ad revenues."

          Did it occur to you that they are already charging the bare minimum to cover their costs? Why do you assume they can lower their subscription fees? And why do you assume to know everything better than publishers do, while it's pretty obvious that you've neither the insight, nor the data, bot not even the wit to make those assumptions?

          "Then the go down another illegal route and start pushing "branded content" (aka native content or "advertorials"). I was at a publishing event in Paris just a week ago and they were talking about adblocking - their solution? Disguise advertising as content - again this is also illegal."

          Yeah. You first force their hands by cutting their existing, honest forms of revenue with ad blocking. Then you're complaining that they have switched to other, less honest forms to generate revenue. Way to go. Hypocrisy much.

        3. quattroprorocked

          It doesn't beggar belief at all.

          I pay Wired. I ad block. I don't get ads. I do get content.

          In my business I charge for my expertise. I turned down an invitation to write for Motley Fool back in the day because they didn't offer me any money, AND they thought that I'd view it as an honour to write for them, for no money.

          I don't know how much money Wired needs to make to continue to write the kind of stuff that I've enjoyed since it was an import (91? or was that Mondo 2000) but today a coffee and cake cost me nearly TWO MONTHS of a Wired online subscription. A Indian take away for the family would pay for Wired for a WHOLE YEAR.

          I suspect that a few hundred K subscribers would allow Wired to continue.

          I ad block El Reg too. I'd also pay them a $1 a week if they asked nicely. And XKCD, if didn't involve ordering t-shirts I don't really want, (yes, bit Green, me).

          I value good content. I'm willing to pay for it from 5-10 sites a month that provide it and make a good case.

          Micropayments? Give me strength. People have been talking about that since Digicash. It's not really any closer now.

          So...

          I do not have a problem with publishers blocking me if I block their ads AND I'm unwilling to pay a modest subscription. I do think it would stupid beyond belief to take my subscription and still throw unsafe/annoying ads at me. I'd bye bye that site pdq.

          The problem I have with publishers is that they expect me to take the risk of malware and disruption because they can't get their house in order. Free content simply isn't worth the risk. They should listen to what their readers want, and tell advertisers to comply.

          Publishers should have the confidence to take control.

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "for some reason publishers think it is sensible to charge literally hundreds of times the amount they would get per user per year for their subscription fees."

          Handling fees.

          That .50 per user per year is amalgamated into a large lump sum.

          Those $1 week micropayments end up having 60-75% of their initial value pulled out by banks and other handlers along with added accounting administrative overheads (extra staff, etc) before the website author gets to see the income

          It's all a scam either way of course but one of the big thing those 3rd party advertisers use to get their frames into unsuspecting websites is that website publishers no longer have to handle the costs associated with vetting and billing advertisers individually.

    2. FF22

      "The argument about us not paying for the content we read... we didn't buy anything, so why would we pay for it - in any way?"

      Yes, you did "buy", or rather, consume content and/or service. So you should pay for it.

      "It's a companies choice to use the web - no-one is forcing them. If they believe that ads are the only way they're going to make money... then perhaps they should start charging a subscription fee."

      And would you be ready to pay let's say even just $5/month for every site you visit? How much would be that for a month for you? Just check you browser history - how many sites have you visited in the last week alone? How much would have that cost you if you'd have had to subscribe on every single of them? What a nuisance would it have been to subscribe to every one of them? Would you have been glad to provide every single of them with your credit card details to charge you for their subscription?

      I'm keenly awaiting your answer on these questions. If most of them are not positive, then it's obvious, that a subscription model can't ever even just closely replace the ad supported model.

      "Calling visitors freeloaders is not really the way forward."

      Well, the first step to every solution is to recognize and name the problem. So calling freeloaders "freeloaders" is the first step to solve the problem cause by them.

      1. illiad

        well, admen make lots of money from ads in newspapers, etc... EVEN the FREE ones! how does THAT work??

        The admen have already made many enemies, how will they get people to *believe* they will NEVER go back to animated noisy ads???

        The biggest problem is many use 'googleadservices' (yes, even theregister!!) to provide their ads - so you are stuck with one bad apple making the *whole* bunch bad... Its not 'theregister' that has done it, but 'dubious site' that got awful ads on its site...

    3. Vic

      Not a real website

      It's not[1].

      Probably. I never checked.

      Errr - no. Nor I. Honest...

      Vic.

      [1] Yet...

  23. Palpy
    Pint

    So: FF22 says advertisers aren't worred about adblockers.

    Specifically, he writes: "The advertisers are not panicking. Actually, they couldn't care less."

    Interesting opinion. How does it hold up?

    In his advertising blog, Dan Shewan writes "Ad blockers have been around for years, but online advertisers all over the world have been freaking out about these software programs lately."

    Chris McElroy writes, "The advertising industry is up in arms over ad blocking software while the companies providing ad blocking software are backed by the large number of people using it."

    We all know about the lawsuit which tried to stop Adblock Plus. At the time, Fredric Filloux wrote, "Regardless of its validity, the legal action misses a critical point. By downloading the plug-in AdBlock Plus (ABP) on a massive scale, users do vote with their mice against the growing invasiveness of digital advertising."

    In a piece titled "Yes, there is a war on advertising. Now what?" Maureen Morrison and Tim Petersen wrote, "The industry has taken tentative steps, like beginning to research lawsuits against ad blockers or taking refuge in branded content that consumers might like and ad blockers might miss. But largely, the ad industry has no coherent strategy to confront a movement that threatens its online existence."

    Threatens advertising's online existence. Advertisers "freaking out", "up in arms".

    So I think FF22's "advertisers could care less" comment is not widely shared in the industry. So why should advertisers worry?

    Again, Dan Shewan's article: "In terms of ad blockers’ potential impact on advertisers, opinions are mixed. The ... report by Adobe and PageFair estimates that the rise of ad blocking technology could cost advertisers a total of more than $40 billion by next year." Dan notes that the report may overstate the case. Nevertheless, even lower estimates of advertiser losses to adblockers start in the billions. And the use of adblockers is rising in what appears to be a nearly logarithmic curve. So one might assume that losses to the advertising industry would also rise in a steep curve.

    So as far as I can see, my point stands: after years of increasingly intrusive advertising, adblockers certainly have gotten the attention of the industry. And they may force reforms, in an industry which had only become more abusive in response to less forceful user feedback.

    -----

    No-one will change FF22's mind. But forum trolls can be useful: the nice thing about these rambling El Reg discussions is that they facilitate exploration of ideas from various angles. I'd buy a round for most of the commentards on this topic if I could -- can't respond to all their points, but most are more coherent and thoughtful than I can usually manage.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: So: FF22 says advertisers aren't worred about adblockers.

      If I'm not mistaken, a logarithmic curve flattens over time. The higher the number, the slower the rise, just as ln of e^3 is only one more than ln of e^2. Now, if you were to say the curve is exponential, then you'll turn heads because the means the curve runs away over time.

  24. jason 7

    I'm rolling out 200 machines next week...

    ...every one will have ad-blockers installed as standard. Been standard practice for some years now. Keeps maintenance down if nothing else.

  25. A Ghost
    Holmes

    What about..

    Can this be extended to browser and canvas fingerprinting?

    They are probing your whole system from outside without permission, yet they get away with it because 99 percent of people don't know it is happening. If you use TOR then it tells you when a site is trying to extract your machine information, otherwise you need a program like WinPrivacy (by the reputable makers of WinPatrol) which works on whichever browser you are using (not a browser plugin).

    It's surprising the amount of sites that do this, though it is not the norm by any means. That is why you have to be careful if you think you are anonymous by using a VPN (say), but the site where you think you are anonymous has fingerprinted you to within a 99 percent likelihood of it being 'you'. As I understand it.

    Might be wrong about that bit.

    Anyway, if I'm not allowed to do a port scan of their network, I don't see why they should be allowed to do a plugin scan on what is effectively my one connection to the outside world - an extension of my brain and my hand and as personal as it gets, hence the term 'Data-Rape'.

    Data-Rape is wrong. I would never do it to anyone else, and I honestly feel as if I have been abused (because I have been) when it is done to me. I did not grant you permission to look inside my knicker draw and rifle around.

    Probing my plugins is Data-Rape, Canvas fingerprinting my machine/browser is Data-Rape.

    It's about time someone started taking this abuse of power seriously. This is a start.

    I know, I know, we can but dream...

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: What about..

      Canvas Fingerprinting is also illegal under 5(3) of 2002/58/EC and has been covered by an Article 29 Working Party Agreement from 2014. So if you detect that sites are using this method you should first complain to the site and if they do not change their behaviour, fire off a complaint to your regulator.

      If you regulator refuses to enforce, get in touch with the EU Commission and file a complaint against your country for failing to uphold your fundamental rights, request the EC initiate infringement proceedings.

      And however unlikely you might think this is to succeed - it worked against Phorm and forced the UK to change RIPA. The Commission have advised me to do the same thing with Member States who do not enforce our rights regarding adblock detectors.

      1. FF22

        Re: What about..

        @Alexander Hanff 1 "Canvas Fingerprinting is also illegal under 5(3) of 2002/58/EC"

        Wrong. It's not illegal. It just requires the same consent as do cookies. So, fingerprinting is perfectly legal as long as the consent requirements are met.

        "So if you detect that sites are using this method you should first complain to the site and if they do not change their behaviour, fire off a complaint to your regulator."

        He can try, but if the site is otherwise compliant with the "cookie law", it's also perfectly legal to use fingerprinting.

        "If you regulator refuses to enforce, get in touch with the EU Commission and file a complaint against your country "

        Yeah. Either that. Or you could just educate yourself about the actual law and about how the web works at the technological level. Wouldn't harm you either.

        " The Commission have advised me to do the same thing with Member States who do not enforce our rights regarding adblock detectors."

        You mean your imaginary adblock detectors, that "store scripts" on the client terminal, right? Well, since there are no such detector in existence, yet, I guess you'll have to write one if you want to continue your crusade against this yet imaginary enemy, and not look like a complete fool in the process.

      2. A Ghost

        Re: What about..

        Wow. Thank you Alexander.

        This thing is huge.

        I'm going to compile a list from my WinPrivacy logs.

    2. FF22

      Re: What about..

      @A Ghost "Data-Rape is wrong."

      Right. But only then, if the data is taken from you. If you're taking data (content) from the publishers/providers against their will and without compensating them for that (because you're using an ad blocker), then that's ok, right? Or isn't this what you meant? Because it certainly sounded that way.

  26. Ropewash
    Flame

    Serverside

    I think the current ad model reaks of laziness and could use a change.

    Why does the ad need to come cross-scripted from offsite? Laziness on the part of the content provider. They don't want to mess about vetting ads so they build in a bit of script that runs on MY machine and pulls crap from somewhere else that they have no control over.

    Fuck that.

    They can man up and actually pull the ads on THEIR machines and embed the result into their own site so my browser never sees anything from an address that I didn't specifically point it to.

    My adblocker won't intervene if the ad is actually a built-in part of the page and my script blocker won't block a script that is not being loaded onto my machine.

    That is how you get me to view your ad.

    Otherwise go stick your head up your own ass and shout about what a freeloader I am.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Serverside

      No, the reason for the "laziness" is because this way the ad people are the ones that rotate the ads rather than the site owner. They can just ping each other to see if an ad got served or not. You don't like it? Like with television, just turn it off. But if the site has exclusive content, you're left with a take-it-or-leave-it scenario.

      1. Ropewash

        Re: Re: Serverside

        That's exactly what I'm on about though isn't it. The server operator has no control over the ads.

        They need to step up and take control or - as you said - I will simply turn it off.

        Right now that means I turn off anything that isn't originating at the site's address.

        This isn't the best option because I really DO wish to support sites that I like and am not paying directly for, but I'm not going to allow free access to my browser to do it.

      2. Vic

        Re: Serverside

        But if the site has exclusive content, you're left with a take-it-or-leave-it scenario.

        Very few sites have exclusive content - and that number is diminishing by the day.

        Vic.

  27. Ropewash

    Too late to edit...

    Going to add (not ad) something to that.

    My gaming rig has no blockers of any type installed. Why?

    Because it only ever links to sites hosted by the game creators and you know what? Those sites offer ads I WANT to see. They are well vetted and always on target for anyone who is playing that game.

    1. A Ghost
      Stop

      Re: Too late to edit...

      That sounds similar to an audio site I visit - I even quite enjoy seeing the ads - what company is on a push this week, any good deals, new software. I think most the ads are locally hosted as well, or at least some of them, or at least they vet stuff properly.

      They are tastefully done and unobtrusive and are only a little intrusive.

      That's an exception though. There are very few sites like that. Where personal interest and commerce overlap so perfectly. But gamers gonna game (don't myself), and audio bods gonna audio bod. Er...

      We love our audio/games and we love the people that make them for us. And they love us too, because we give them not just money but glory. We also give them our loyalty and pay for our software, because we could just download from ****.*** if we wanted to.

      So we allow them to sell to us, because we want to be sold to. There is a mutual respect there and they don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

      Unlike other obtrusive, intrusive and offensive advertising. It's actually a form of fucking spam if you ask me. Again, I ask you: Why should they be allowed to pull this shit and I'm not allowed to send out 20,000 big dick pill adverts willy nilly to all and sundry? It's about as targeted, as in, it's not targeted at all. And when it is targeted, yeah you'll definitely win hearts and minds by plugging funeral parlours when someone (probably google) gets a sniff of your dead mother/father/brother/sister. Even when it works it's fucking moronic.

      We pay for our software. We pay for our hardware. Shit, we even pay for our own computers and a line to rent to get on the internet. They know who we are, they have our addresses and credit card numbers. We are already NOT private. If we don't want to broadcast to all and sundry who we are on the net, it is not because we have something to hide, it's just we don't want to invite in the loons. One of those loons is the advertisers. They are unscrupulous. They serve dodgy malware for one.

      Do you ever hook up one of those programs like Wireshark and see the shit running through the traces? It's like something out of the bloody Matrix! Right horror show. I forget which one it was now, it wasn't Wireshark, anyway there were literally hundreds of domains splitting off with URIs like 2422.ffk.33.jjfsl.net scrolling faster than the eye could see in real time. Yeah, I know. It's called the internet. I get it. I do.

      But it's wasted resources. Never mind the obfuscation and cover this provides for malware. Others have stated it kills their phone battery etc. plus the fact that they have to pay for the privilege. It's not on.

      And the sheer chutzpah of the Advertising shills is beyond belief. Having a go at US! We aren't even allowed to be offended. Fuck them. I am offended. And I do consider it abuse when you spy on me and collate and cross reference me and then sell it.

      I tried to read the independent I think it was on a friend's laptop, only a small screen, but in the middle of a newspaper article, they had 2 videos blasting out at top volume shouting, blinkenlightz, the works. It was impossible to read the article. I actually had to close the tab and go and look at something else.

      These people have lost their minds. And they'll probably get away with it as well. But I will fight them every step of the way, on principle. The internet was never meant to be like this. Stop the internet, I want to get off....

  28. A Ghost
    Thumb Up

    Ok, just RTFC

    @Alexander Hanff 1:

    ------------------------

    Detecting browser resolution in order to render the page properly would fall under such an exemption.

    Even detecting device via the user-agent to see what the pixel density is (retina or not) would fall under the same exemption.

    But it is also about the purpose that data is used for - if the user-agent, browser resolution, font list etc are then re-used to create a device fingerprint for identification purposes - that is when it becomes illegal (this was covered by an Article 29 Working Party opinion from 2014).

    -----------------------------

    I'm a little uneducated on canvas fingerprinting. Obviously it starts with sniffing the browser and OS, and with the browser header information they can determine your user agent (firefrox, chrome etc.)

    But as I understand it, a whole lot more machine specific information can be retrieved such as amount of RAM, HD info, GFX card manufacturer - you get the picture - basically a forensic breakdown and ultimately a unique identifier of YOU (and your computer).

    I could research it, but I just wondered if you (or anyone else) could explain just how deep this 'canvas' fingerprinting goes. By that I mean, just how much info can be gleaned by an averagely sneaky site that implements this.

    For example, one of the biggest audio software and hardware manufacturers - Native Instruments - carry out canvas fingerprinting. After paying thousands of pounds buying their stuff, soft and hardware, I am not allowed to download anything from their site unless I have fingerprinting on. This I can understand, to an extent. I don't agree with it, but that's another argument for another day. I at least know _why_ they are implementing this. 1: They want to reduce piracy and make sure those that are dl'ing their software are eligible, and 2: (And this is the real reason) They want to track every single page you visit to market their stuff even more to you. NI are obsessed with marketing. They are the kings of it. Unashamedly.

    Another reason someone might use canvas fingerprinting is because of 'Trolls' (people that disagree) on 'alternative' news sites. One site that does this, does it because it makes mad claims that famous people never existed (Diana), or that Lee Rigby was actually 3 different people, and never mind that, he wasn't killed anyway, and the people who killed him are actually.... you know the sort of crap - no wonder they get 'trolls'. They've openly laughed at people using TOR to post messages (which you can do with a burner mail), and taunted them saying 'Ha ha, we can read the information in your router' which is crap, they are doing it via canvas fingerprinting. Lots of people using TOR don't realise this is possible. It's not a problem of course unless you go logging in (which you should never strictly do with TOR), and giving people cause to track you. (Not me btw, I don't bother arguing with idiots)

    Another thing that opened my eyes up was installing Jon Donym proxy. It's an excellent free proxy service that works a little differently, and works very well. There is a test page with it and it shows you exactly what your resolution is etc. etc. - you need to install it to see. It's a real eye-opener. Like that web page from the EFF that shows you just how exposed you are (forget it now). Just another tool for laying bare the cobwebs...

    As I mentioned, WinPrivacy is a great tool for finding which sites are actually using canvas fingerprinting, because quite often, sites are set up to read the IP tables (please excuse my ignorance here and correct me if I am wrong) and can distinguish when it is a TOR exit node (kind of thing). Also, some sites are set up to read the IP addys of Jon Donym. It's rare though that a site reads both, so you can usually get through with one or the other. If not, it's time to dig out the mighty Proxomitron.

    But when I have WinPrivacy set to on (it starts with win) it pops up an alert during non-proxy normal web surfing be it chrome opera ff etc. - Amazing the sites that do this.

    The great worry is with all this collated fingerprint data, what with it being unique and pretty unspoofable, is that some big bad database is being collated by all that participate in this harvesting of information, and a cookery site you visited might be able to sell data to other cookery sites, for all the different reasons people want to do such things. For example, with the DATA that Native Instruments collate, they can tell who you are not just on their site when you complain on their forum (or just dl your own softs), but they would be able to tell that you were that mystery guest that was slagging them off on one of the major producer forums about their shoddy hardware, IF that forum collected canvas fingerprinting on you. And then shared it. For a price I bet they would. We can all see where this is going.

    Don't need to be a genius to work out how quickly this could get very very nasty privacy and anonymity wise, and how many different ways this could be abused. It's not the stuff we know they know, it's the stuff we don't know what they are doing is the problem these days. 99 percent of internet users have never heard of canvas fingerprinting, even among the many that are aware of ad-blocking.

    So, to reiterate your quote one more time:

    ------------------------------------

    if the user-agent, browser resolution, font list etc are then re-used to create a device fingerprint for identification purposes - that is when it becomes illegal (this was covered by an Article 29 Working Party opinion from 2014).

    ------------------------

    You seem to have answered my question in a way (just went back and read all the 3 pages of comments), but I wonder if you could maybe elaborate on this a bit more. Anything really: tech stuff, legal stuff, personal attitude to it all, how you envision things working out.

    Sorry for the word salad. It's nearly 4 in the morning here. Hopefully someone can make some sense of this and provide a bit more information. It's something I mean to research a lot more eventually, but you know, time.

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: Ok, just RTFC

      I don't want to seem like I am making light of everything you typed with a short reply but it is really simple - it is illegal. There has been extensive discussion on this at regulatory levels and device fingerprinting is illegal under 5(3) without consent if it doesn't fall under specific exemptions (which I can't think of any situation where it might).

      I read a long research paper on Canvas Fingerprinting a number of years ago and brought it to the attention of the EU Commission - there was zero doubt in their mind it is illegal.

      1. FF22

        Re: Ok, just RTFC

        @Alexander Hanff 1 "There has been extensive discussion on this at regulatory levels and device fingerprinting is illegal under 5(3) without consent if it doesn't fall under specific exemptions (which I can't think of any situation where it might)."

        Thank god we don't have to rely on your obviously bleak imagination, because we have a written, official Opinion from the DPD Working Party, which explicitly mentions several examples where device fingerprinting will be exempt even from prior user consent.

        That said, even if it's not exempt, it's still not illegal - contrary to what you keep implying - per se, but only requires consent, which can be - again, contrary to what keep saying - also implied, just like in the case of cookies. There's no official written statement from the EU where it would say otherwise, but there are several, where it is explicitly stated that device fingerprinting falls under the very same consent requirements as regular cookies.

        And, unlike you, I can also provide you with a verifiable and official document proving what I'm saying, and disproving what you keep repeating. Feel free to read it: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2014/wp224_en.pdf

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ok, just RTFC

          "And, unlike you, I can also provide you with a verifiable and official document proving what I'm saying, and disproving what you keep repeating. Feel free to read it: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2014/wp224_en.pdf"

          Thanks for the link. I've just read it. It appears to support Mr Hanff.

          1. FF22

            Re: Ok, just RTFC

            You know, arguing for fingerprinting (per se) being illegal in spite of that document is like arguing for 2+2=5. You can do that, but it doesn't prove that 2+2=5, rather that you literally have no clue of what you're talking about, and don't even understand the basic concepts of the argument.

            1. tiggity Silver badge

              Re: Ok, just RTFC

              FF22 - give up , as others have said,reading the pdf supports Hanff i.e. that consent required for fingerprinting in typical advertising use cases

          2. Tom 64

            Re: Ok, just RTFC

            >> "Thanks for the link. I've just read it. It appears to support Mr Hanff."

            You opened a PDF linked to from this guy? You're braver than me, but you may now want to reformat that VM.

      2. A Ghost
        Thumb Up

        Re: Ok, just RTFC

        @Alexander

        No, I don't think you are making light of my overly long post. I was thinking out loud really.Thank you for being succinct.

        This stuff is dynamite.

        And like I say, a lot of people are totally unaware this exists, coz it is so under the hood.

        Really, if you wan the easiest way to find out about Canvas Fingerprinting, get WinPrivacy (it's the best method I have found though TOR will also alert you if it is not already blocked).

        I have no affiliation at all with the makers of WinPrivacy, to be clear. I paid for it as I paid for the excellent WinPatrol, which is the better known product.

        cheers.

  29. adfh
    Unhappy

    Hrrrmm.. this feels like a stretch....

    Probing a browser to test its capabilities is an intrusion of privacy?

    I mean, when you seek to "fingerprint" a browser by analysing its plugins, plugin versions, font lists, request styles, version headers, cache contents etc. etc. to uniquely identify someone

    Eg. https://panopticlick.eff.org/

    ... then yes, you are likely invading someone's privacy if you ask. But if you're querying a browser on its capabilities? Well, then that's a key part of responsive design (what resolution is your display? what pixel density? how is it oriented? Are you capable of displaying media of type X? What language shall I display to you?)...

    Whilst I hate the bulk of ads, the primary reason I block them now is because of the security issue they pose due to the lack of screening for malicious payloads used in drive by downloads. The site publishers vary rarely now sell directly to advertisers, rather there's several layers of marketing and remarketing of screen real-estate going on.

    That said, I feel what will happen is we'll just end up with another layer of "This site employs cookies, click agree" notifications.. Next it'll be, "This site sniffs your browser for ad blocking extensions, and deploys first and third party cookies and other tracking mechanisms.. Do you want to do anything useful? AGREE"...

    The inevitable conclusion of this, as we move to "native code" on websites like Google and Firefox etc. are talking about is websites having app-like clickwrap licenses... and the web becoming less interoperable and more silo based... and then we all go back to the beginning complaining about incompatible systems and needing a standard :)

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Hrrrmm.. this feels like a stretch....

      You could always do what I used to do in the 90's and code your website for the lowest common multiple. Simply assume everyone that goes to your site is visiting it on a dialup connection (14.4kbps), on a 256-color display at 512x384 (don't laugh--early color Macs and the Color Classic were this resolution) and only 4MB of total memory (forget about graphics memory).

    2. FF22

      Re: Hrrrmm.. this feels like a stretch....

      "The inevitable conclusion of this, as we move to "native code" on websites like Google and Firefox etc. are talking about is websites having app-like clickwrap licenses... and the web becoming less interoperable and more silo based... and then we all go back to the beginning complaining about incompatible systems and needing a standard :)"

      Exactly. That's why Hanff, even if he would be right (which he is not) would be not helping, but just damaging both end-users and the web as a whole with his ill-conceived crusade. Because really, what he wants and proposes would do nothing for the privacy of the users. It would give them no extra protection, and would not do anything in their interest.

      It would just force the hands of publishers to set up "consent walls", which users have agree to and to click through first to gain access to content - even if they would not be blocking ads. So, all in all, the only thing he could achieve would be make the user experience even worse, not only for blockers, but also to decent users, with no gains and no benefits regarding privacy in the end.

      Now, who else in their right mind would want that?

  30. deshepherd

    Current loads of sites have a "we use cookies to improve your browsing experience - if you continue using this site the you agree that we can do this" and then they can add a cookie to say that you've agreed. Can't they just chnage this to "we use cookies and may examine you settings to improve your browising experience - if you continue to use this site you agree we can do this" and then they can add a cookie to say that you agree at which point they can then look at your settings. So, they probably can't block you on your first page visit.

    However, there's a further twist I've just thought of - if sites rely on a cookie to say whether you've agreed to cookies then can they now legally ask if you've got that cookie because if you haven't agreed and don't have they cookie then they aren't allowed to ask. Hence its possibly illegal for a web site to ask if you've agreed to cookie (unless they store the info themselves which leads to a whole extra level of tracking)

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      None of the cookie banner solutions currently being used are compliant with EU Law - so no they can't be used to cover adblock detectors to make it legal.

      The way current cookie banners work is they simply display a message - they literally do nothing else (in most cases - there are some very limited exceptions). The cookies are placed on your machine before the cookie notice is even displayed to the user - this is illegal.

      Furthermore, the cookie banners do not have a "I don't agree" option, only an "I agree" option (which is also illegal).

      So yeah ICO tried to throw this idea at me when I had my meeting with them and in the end agreed that this wouldn't work and that yes currently these banners are non-compliant. ICO also agree that the detectors are illegal as well and have agreed to accept my formal complaint against UK publishers and adblock detection developers - they even expressed an interest in a joint investigation with other DPA's as they did with the Google case back in 2012.

      So yes, even the usually toothless ICO are in agreement that this is ILLEGAL.

      In my discussions with the EU Commission they also agreed with me that because using an adblocker is a clear facilitation of a users rights under Recital 66 and is an explicit and deliberate action - it could not be over written by any implied consent (cookie banners rely on implied consent) - the use of an adblocker is a direct denial of consent from these users.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > None of the cookie banner solutions currently being used are compliant with EU Law

        Every cookie banner solution is illegal? This sounds as likely to me as every adblock-detector relies on executing code in the cache of a visitors computer. I.e. not at all.

      2. FF22

        @Alexander Hanff 1 "Furthermore, the cookie banners do not have a "I don't agree" option, only an "I agree" option (which is also illegal)."

        The "I don't agree" option is present on every single page - even on those who do not display a banner at all. It's located in the top right (on Mac: left) corner of your browser window and mimics an X.

      3. FF22

        @Alexander Hanff 1 "None of the cookie banner solutions currently being used are compliant with EU Law - so no they can't be used to cover adblock detectors to make it legal."

        Yeah, you keep repeating that false statement, but the facts are contradicting you. Current ad blocker detector (at least the many I've encountered) do not violate the laws you were referring to, because they do nothing alike that you purported they would.

        They do not store any scripts or data on the client terminal, and they do not even try to discover the extensions you are running (which wouldn't be illegal anyway). They do functional testing, on a per page basis, which requires none of what you implied.

        To me it's obvious, that you simply don't know and understand how web technologies and specifically ad block detectors work, and what those specific technological terms you keep using mean (hint: not what you seem to think). That's where the problem lies, and until you fix that by educating yourself about this issues, you'll always be in the wrong.

  31. pAnoNymous

    Something for nothing

    How exactly do you want this content paid for? If you don't like ads don't visit the site.

  32. FatGerman

    Lots of people hate adverts...

    ..and I don't particularly like them either but I would like to know from those who want a war on them.

    1) How, in the absence of advertising, is all the free content that we all use every single day (eg the one we're reading right now) supposed to be paid for?

    2) How are individuals trying to get small web-based businesses started supposed to promote their products?

    It's all very well to say that advertising isn't nice, but just blocking it is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

      I am not even remotely concerned about advertising - I fully support ad supported content. What I don't support is the illegal non-consensual tracking and profiling by adtech companies. Contextual Ads still generate over 90% of all display ad revenues and privacy respecting, contextual advertising is not a problem for me.

      My work for the last decade has been focused on the illegal behavioural profiling and tracking.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

      "How are individuals trying to get small web-based businesses started supposed to promote their products?

      It's all very well to say that advertising isn't nice, but just blocking it is cutting off your nose to spite your face."

      Do you really think products are going to be successfully promoted by advertising that isn't nice?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

        ""How are individuals trying to get small web-based businesses started supposed to promote their products?"

        This is a question that deserves a fuller answer than I gave last night.

        I'll start off by taking out "web-based" and dealing with small businesses in general.

        Looking back over the past couple of years or so I've used several local tradesmen such as a joiner, painters, central heating and plumbing, garage door repairer, blacksmith (wrought iron gate), dry-stone waller & tree surgeon. The joiner advertised in print in the parish magazine. The painters were recommended by the joiner. The central heating engineer we'd used before, probably found in the phone book but relocated by his website via search. When we had a non-heating plumbing requirement he recommended his brother. Garage door repairer was found by searching for description and locality which turned up his website. I can't remember how we first came across the blacksmith but he lives across the road now. I found one waller via his website and search but he was too expensive so I hired one recommended by the joiner. The tree surgeon was another search & website discovery. I forgot to include the roofer in my list: ad in local free paper. So, two print ads, the remainder a mixture of word-of-mouth and web search. The joiner and heating engineer were both recommended to my daughter when she needed such services.

        One aspect of this should be apparent - a web-based small business can be found by search engine, the only difference is that when looking for a physical small business rather than a web-based one included the locality as a search term. Also, at web-scale social media or specialised forums seem to stand in for word-of-mouth very well.

    3. A Ghost
      Pirate

      Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

      The internet existed without advertising before, and it is possible for it to exist without it again. Ok, that isn't going to happen due to entropy and cat being well and truly out of the bag. But it's a nice thought.

      Please see my earlier comment about my actually liking and freely accepting some advertising. It's just that I don't want Dr. Fred Mbogo's magical cancer curing pills pushed at me, when I am finding out how long my relative has to live. It's not only intrusive, it is abusive and totally unacceptable. THIS is what we are fighting against. That and malware. Ad pushers are one of the biggest vectors of infection. You don't even need to be a security researcher to know that.

      You raise a very good point, but please do not conflate being Data-Raped with people trying to steal the rightful work of others. I am a content provider. I have my work stolen all the time. If everyone paid for those 20,000 downloads of my software mod (I didn't write the original software), even if they paid just 10p, then it would give me a large amount of money. People refuse to pay even a penny for that which will cost them over 20 quid elsewhere. So I gave it away for free in the end.This is hurting me, please take this into account.

      Also please take into account, that my work is of such a quality, that I am being asked to sell through the original dev's site for that 20 quid a time, for which I will get a significant cut. But people would rather pay 20 quid it would seem, than pay me 10p (or even be polite and say thanks). Nowt so queer as folk. The tragedy of the commons and all that.

      Ok, that covers the whole content creation getting something for nothing angle. What about the Data-Rape?

      It works like this. And this has been covered many times. You go to a website. You go there for a reason. That website may or may not provide content (I'm talking more IP than 'content' here) that you are interested in. It may be the sole reason you go there, or perhaps you have other motives (can think of many). That website has every right to ask you: Can I please probe your system to give you a better experience? I have every right to say 'yes' or 'no'. That website then has every right to say: Well, we're sorry that you feel that way, but we just aren't going to let you play until you pay. Fair enough. No harm no foul. No one loses.

      If I am that interested in the content, I will pay for it, believe me. But there are many content creators out there that are happy to give their work away for free. Hell, in the audio world, you can get some of the most genius programmers giving away virtual synthesizers and what not for free! Stuff that holds its own against paid software costing 200 euros even!

      Sample content. Can't give it away. I know, coz I tried. Actually you can give it away, coz I tried that too. 20,000 downloads and only 2 people said thanks, but 20 people complained! Welcome to the wonderful world of content creation and dissemination.

      This is not about ripping off the small content providers, be they writers, programmers, photographers. No, this isn't even about ripping off the big multi-national corporations, like the aforementioned Native Instruments, who canvas fingerprint your machine, and won't allow you to download the software you own, without it. I patronise them by buying their software and their hardware. They don't give a shit about their customers. Only what they can get out of them. It's called business. I get it. I really do.

      Native Instruments do not care about software piracy, because they are not affected by it. In fact, it enhances their business model for reasons I shall not get into here. They simply do not care one bit. Because they are pretty much the biggest fish in the pond, plus they have hardware to push as well. So what possible reason could there be for them to insist on canvas fingerprinting? As I mention earlier, it is purely marketing. To the max. Cry me a river. They aren't doing this to survive, they are doing this to dominate because only the paranoid survive, right? But I repeat myself, it's just business.

      In a way, I don't even mind with this company, because being part of the hive and the big data, it enables them to push certain products even more. This is an argument for another time.

      Now, Canvas Fingerprinting (as I understand it) is even more intrusive than Ad-Blocker detection, because it takes a unique profile of your entire system without you even knowing it is being done. That will then be stored on a database, and even though many that use this will not sell that info to 3rd parties, the abuse potential for cross referencing is massive. Too big to be ignored.

      Canvas Fingerprinting trumps TOR, trumps VPNs, Proxies, you name it. When someone has a unique identifier of your end point machine, it matters not a jot how encrypted or obfuscated the data was in transit. It has to come from somewhere and go somewhere and vice versa. That is the weakest link in the chain.

      Let me give you an example. A site I go to sometimes for shits and giggles, is a conspiracy theory site, with lots of good info but is mad as a box of frogs, so they attract people who tell them how it is. This site uses canvas fingerprinting. When you go there via TOR, it tells you 'This site is attempting to extract canvas...' and do you want to allow it to, or not. Of course you click on 'no'. But people who 'troll' there are not totally computer literate and they believe that by using TOR that they are somehow magically invisible. They are not, not when they mistakenly click on 'yes'. This then uniquely identifies their machine. So if they go through TOR, Jon Donym (or any proxy), or a VPN, it doesn't matter, because their machine is uniquely identified to a 99 percent probability (made that one up).

      The browser header information gives a bit away. But when you have OS, GFX card, HD manufacturer, amount of RAM, etc. etc. it isn't that difficult to absolutely forensically identify someone.

      That guy that thought he was anonymous because he was using TOR to troll got his comeuppance at this particular site. But if he ever used the same machine to go back there, it wouldn't matter if he used a VPN or whatever - he would still get clocked. In fact, to get around this, all he needs to do is just connect via a different physical computer via TOR again, but disallow the canvas fingerprinting option. I think he could also connect through a virtual machine using TOR and that would have the same effect. Not 100 percent on that, but I think it would work - they would not have a clue who 'he' was.

      I think I've made the point. I'm just a layman, so if I've made any mistakes, I am more than happy to be corrected.

      As for the original point, those that provide useful content will find people more than willing to pay for it (or not), and like the rest of us, they will stand or fall one way or another. Data-Raping my personal life (it's not just my computer) helps no one. It results in absolutely NO extra sales to anyone, I promise you. Yes it is good way of controlling people, but that is the political side, which I will argue again. We are talking commerce here. I would also imagine the people that use the advertising services have to pay the advertising companies too, so they are also wasting their money.

      You raise some good points about 'how do they promote their stuff'. I don't have an answer to that, like the hundreds of other small developers I know. I can make a post on one of the two biggest music producer forums in the world, and I can make their sales go through the fucking roof. I'm not a shill or even affiliated, but I help out and promote where I can. I get no free software for this. I don't need it. I already have a stupid stupid amount of the highest quality softs on the planet. I've actually been told by some of the most respected devs in the industry that my post helped to give them a massive sales boost.

      Ta!

      Shilling is a massive problem on the audio forums, and sometimes the devs get around it by being cheeky and just promoting themselves by giving their time. But someone lying about being given a free product, or even having beta tested for a company, can result in that person becoming persona non grata and losing whatever reputation they had (which is everything). If you've only got a few posts you will be outright banned.

      Integrity is everything. I am only talking about my real world, small little subset of things. I'm sorry I can't answer further than this.

      ["We're not! - thank fuck he put a sock in it eventually" I hear you crying at the back :-). ]

      1. FatGerman

        Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

        [Huge huge post, some of which I understood]

        But, if there's going to be advertising, wouldn't you rather it be for something you might be interested in than for something irrelevant to your life? The reason I forward through ads on TV is that I have no hair and therefore no interest in whatever Loreal are trying to sell these days. OTOH I am quite interested in rucksacks and walking boots, and I get a fair fews of those ads popping up in my browser. And none for Loreal.

        Is it really possible for an ad company to take the data it has slurped about me and actually .. well what, exactly? What is it you think they do with all this data that has you so scared?

        Really, I'm genuinely ignorant.

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

          "But, if there's going to be advertising, wouldn't you rather it be for something you might be interested in than for something irrelevant to your life?"

          No.

          The only way the advert should gain any semblance of being relevant should be because of the content of the site on which it is placed. So if I am on a site discussing science fiction, I would expect to see static/non-tracked adverts for science fiction books, DVDs, etc. and would have no objection. The adverts are relevant to me because they are relevant to the site I'm on.

          If I then went to a site about fluffy bunnies, I would expect to see adverts for rabbit stew fluffy bunnies and other cute animal toys, and definitely not science fiction books, DVDs, etc.

          As far as I'm concerned, the relevance should come from the content I am viewing - not from content viewed on other sites (or from previous purchases, etc, etc, etc).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

            It goes further than that.

            I was in LA a couple of months ago and started browsing local pages for any gigs that might be worth going to.

            I'd never visited these sites before (and probably never will) but their IP tracking started the ad-slingers sending me ads for

            Siding supplies

            DryWall installation

            Workers comp Law firms

            And a few 'others services of the night'

            There is no way I'd be targetted because of my history. It was purely location based.

            I proved that by using a VPN from blighty to an end point in San Bernadino. (yes that one).

            Up pops all sorts of ads for services in that area. As if I am interested in a 'New Ford at 0$ down'?

            As my home internet Point of presence is almost 50 miles from where I really live is it Ok for me to block ads for services that are relvant to the Point of presence locale? Would I ever consider buying anything from that part of London? Nope so the get blocked.

            They aren't relevant to me so they get blocked, like ALL Adverts.

            Do not want. Won't buy from an internet advert. Never have, never will.

            So

            get off my lawn before I stick this pitchfork into you.

          2. FatGerman

            Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

            "But, if there's going to be advertising, wouldn't you rather it be for something you might be interested in than for something irrelevant to your life?"

            No.

            The only way the advert should gain any semblance of being relevant should be because of the content of the site on which it is placed.

            Thank you. This answer wins the "putting it clearly and in a nutshell award". Why I have never realised that 'targeting' could be so simple I really have no idea.

            (Genuine, non-sarcastic reply - just for the avoidance of doubt)

            1. VinceH Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

              '"This answer wins the "putting it clearly and in a nutshell award".'

              I'll accept the award, but don't expect any bloody speeches!

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

          I look at lots of things I'm not interested in - e.g. researching gifts for families & friends.

          So, "targeted" advertising (based on sites / data I had looked at) would serve me lots of ads that were not relevant to me.

          Only if your web browsing is totally "me centric" would you get properly targeted ads, and even then probably useless a lot of the time, e.g. if someone spent several months researching cars online and then stopped looking at car websites then likely they either purchased a car or financial situation meant car purchase not viable. But, regardless of reason for stopping, "targeted" ads would be serving up car ads to that user for a significant time after car website visits stopped.

        3. Vic

          Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

          But, if there's going to be advertising, wouldn't you rather it be for something you might be interested in than for something irrelevant to your life?

          Indeed I would.

          But that's not what I get - all I ever see is adverts for stuff I've just bought and don't intend to buy again.

          Vic.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Lots of people hate adverts...

      "It's all very well to say that advertising isn't nice, but just blocking it is cutting off your nose to spite your face."

      I allowed advertising on my browser for _years_. Even when frames had flashing banners in them.

      popups, popovers and popunders could generally be premptively blocked with standard javascript defences.

      What finally persuaded me to install adblock was when frames started pushing adverts containg full-motion video and sound - which somehow managed to turn the volume up to "full". Malware drivebys were just the thing which cemented my opinion that said-blockers would never be removed.

      It's my opinion (and just mine, IANAL) that if a website's advertising frames push malware at users then the website operator is fully liable under the computer misuse act. I'd love to see that actually tested. A prosecution alone would be more than enough to make many operators rethink the way they handle 3rd party content, no matter which way the actual legal decision went.

  33. A Ghost

    Server jurisdiction and legality

    @Alexander

    A simple question this time, you may be able to answer:

    With regard to any sites I find using Canvas Fingerprinting, and after 'having a word' with them, how does it work when that company is outside of the EU to start with? What about if it is a European company, but the servers are located offshore?

    I'm a little confused as to the scope of this EU thing. Any confirmation or further information would be greatly appreciated. I don't mind trying a couple of test cases to see how it goes, but I don't want to totally waste my time either.

    cheers.

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: Server jurisdiction and legality

      Under current rules (95/46/EC, 2002/58/EC) any company which is based in the EU or processes data in the EU is required to follow our laws. There is a very long list of case law supporting this not least the Right to be Forgotten case in the CJEU last year but also (for closer to home) the Vidal-Hall vs Google case in the UK, Belgian DPA vs Facebook, French DPA vs Google, French DPA vs Facebook etc etc etc.

      So in short all EU companies are obliged to follow EU law and it is important to note that even if they are exporting the data outside of the EU they can only lawfully do so if the country it is being sent to has laws which are at the least equivalent to EU privacy and data protection laws.

      And as stated above for any company which is not based in the EU but is processing data in the EU they also have to follow our laws.

      In 2018 when the General Data Protection Regulation comes in any company (whether or not they are based in the EU or process data in the EU) which target EU citizens will be required to follow our laws in relation to EU citizens (some Judges & legislators already believe this to be the case under our existing laws but there is some ambiguity which will be removed by the new Regulation).

  34. Bruce Ordway

    Forbes, etc...

    I stopped clicking on links to Forbes.

    google search returns tend to put their links near the top of the lists but I don't see anything special about them... except that they piss me off.

    I have a pretty low tolerance for annoyances while browsing.

    There are too many other options...

  35. Palpy
    Pirate

    One way online advertising might change?

    They say you can talk to a mule, but he only listens if you hit him with a board first to get his attention. For many years internet users have "talked to the mule" -- complained about intrusive ads. The industry has responded by using every new technology to make ads even more intrusive. So: ad blockers are the board, the advertising industry is the mule.

    Use ad blockers. Recommend them to your friends, install them on your parents' computers. Let's see if we can get 90% of all ads on all computers blocked. Watch the ad industry's market for online ads drop toward zero.

    Eventually content providers -- who get hurt too -- will demand that the ad industry provide safe, static ads. And that they certify them in a way which can be verified by ad blocking software. We get back to a situation in which content providers can make money from ads, but the displays never play video, they don't make noise, they never block content.

    Then ad-blocking software will become a viewer-side control measure: if the ad industry begins to cheat and spam out intrusive ads under false certifications, then the makers of ad blockers -- who are, after all, primarily on the viewers' side -- will cut them off at the knees again. Viewers start to control what the industry can spam out. Not regulators, not industry-side watchdogs. Viewers control ads, by using their own software.

    Of course the real world will probably work things out differently. I'm just suggesting that this is not a case in which either we have two or three loud animated ads blocking content on most pages, or we end up having no free content at all. It does not have to be either-or.

    But we need to hit the mule with the board first. Really, really hard.

    1. FF22

      Re: One way online advertising might change?

      You're making two mistakes in your argument.

      1. You're falsely generalizing in many instances. You're treating all publishers and all ads the same, as if they'd be all reckless, bad and dangerous. Which they aren't. You want collective punishment, which is neither right, nor practical. By doing so you're just forcing even those entities (mostly publishers, but also ads) who tried to be honest with you to react to your recklessness the same way, and fit your definition of "every single of them bad" - because they have nothing to lose at that point. You already failed/refused to distinguish between them and already considered all of them bad. They just have no reason and no way to counter your judgement anymore.

      2. You think that ad blockers and freeloaders have the upper hand. They don't. The services are owned and controlled by the publishers, and if they really want to lock you out of their services, they can do that any time. At last when they switch to a subscription model, you can throw your ad blocker into the trash bin, because it won't grant you free access to content any more. Or if they go out of business (because they won't be able to cover their losses any more because of your blocking) - your ad blocker won't help you to access their content and services either, because they will not be created and existent anymore.

      You can also dream of ads getting certified, but it won't ever happen. First, because it's unfeasible and actually outright impossible. That has many reasons - the most prominent being that the internet extends across borders and jurisdictions, which make it impossible to apply one standard to all of it. The other being that bad buys will never adhere to the rules, and just as with crime, you can't eradicate them. You will never reach a state where all ads will be compliant with whatever rules there could be set. There will be always rogue ones and bad apples.

      That said we all know that ad blockers are just freeloaders, and all the false generalizations they're using are only made up in their attempt to try to justify what even they know is wrong (ie. content and service theft). So, no matter how good ads would become, the freeloaders would always come up with false generalizations, and still keep blocking ads. Actually, the freeloaders wouldn't even see if and when ads have become better, because, you know, they're blocking them. That how you know they're just making up excuses, and don't mean any of it.

      So, really the only way out of this downward spiral is simply to lock out freeloader ad blockers of service, and thus force them to become more conscious about their choices which sites they're visiting. Only this will establish a feedback loop which will also make ads better and weed out bad apples.

      Whether said lockout will happen with anti ad blockers, or simply by switching to a subscription model, remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: until ad blocking goes in recess, the internet will be less and less fun everyone, the content and service quality will keep decreasing, and generally, it will cost more and more for users to use services and consume content.

      This process or worsening is already underway, has been for years, and that's what you're actually complaining about. Bad ads are part of this. And ad blocking escalate this problem. And it will keep doing that until people realize this (ie. that ad blocking itself is a problem, not a solution).

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: One way online advertising might change?

        "You're treating all publishers and all ads the same, as if they'd be all reckless, bad and dangerous. Which they aren't."

        To paraphrase Gresham's law, the bad ads drive out the good.

      2. Palpy
        Pirate

        Thought that post would get a rise out of old FF.

        FF posits that internet content will be cut off, forever and irremediably locked away behind exorbitant paywalls, if ad blockers become de rigueur for a majority of internet users.

        FF should consult his "free market forces": there will always be somebody who finds a way to publish online and make it work. It happens now. And obviously those sites will out-compete paywalls. It's already happened.

        I tossed out ad-certs as one thing that might happen -- a possible scenario. But playing with that scenario, I wonder if FF thinks that devs like the ones who programmed the uBlock Origin and Disconnect browser extensions -- and a few dozen like them -- are too stupid to creatively parse an ad certification scheme? I think the independent devs are pretty clever. I think they could manage to black out bad actors and rule-benders pretty quickly.

        The truth is, the internet advertising industry has failed to keep its house in order. The industry promotes intrusive, obnoxious ads. It has no effective safeguards against malware in ads. Data-heavy video ads chew through users data plans. The ad industry has aggressively abused viewers for years, and shows no sign of stopping.

        Heck, the new iPhone 6s enables ad-blocking -- even corporate Apple believes users should be able to block ads. According to a Time story from Sept 30, 2015, "In the days since iOS 9’s release, ad blockers quickly became the best selling software in the App Store."

        So there are really just a few first-order operatives in this equation.

        1. Users can install ad-blocking, script-blocking, and privacy software, and that is a unilateral power. The ad industry might as well get used to it: users are in control of that.

        2. The internet is a vastly resourceful ecosystem, with very many very very sharp people working on it. Claiming that real content will wither without intrusive, obnoxious ads vastly underestimates the resourcefulness of internet creators.

        3. The internet ad industry will not change until it is forced to change. That has been amply demonstrated.

        I think the ad industry is also very creative and full of very smart people. They can make a static-ad-only, malware-vetted certification system work if they want to. If they are not that smart, they need to be offline. Let 'em stick to magazine glossies and 15-sec television spots.

        There is one persistent red herring in FF's posts: the idea that "good ads" have no chance to out-compete obnoxious, intrusive "bad ads" if all ads are blocked. This is a red herring because no website I've visited ever gives a viewer the option of seeing content with "only clean ads" or with, say, more complete content and "obnoxious and intrusive ads too".

        In other words, viewers never get a chance to vote on "good" versus "bad" ads. There is no chance for "good" ads to ever out-compete "bad" ones because no direct competition between the two is ever allowed. It's a red herring. This is an obvious no-brainer, and I suspect other commentards figured that out as soon as they read FF's posts.

        Anyway. This is not a flame war, I hope, and certainly I don't want to go there. FF is a smart guy, and he writes well. (OK, most of the time -- a few posts back he got hurried and awkward, I think.) From his perspective users of ad-blockers are freeloaders; from my perspective they are the causative agents of long-overdue, very necessary change. Viva uBlock Origin; arriba la Adblock and AdGuard; long live NoScript.

      3. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: One way online advertising might change?

        @F22 you are clearly on your way to claim the title of the most downvoted commentard. Shame really that El Reg does not give an option to hide the posts from such like you, but perhaps your boneheaded stubbornness will give them the motivation to implement such feature. In this spirit - keep up the good work!

        1. Alexander Hanff 1

          Re: One way online advertising might change?

          It takes no effort to not read his drivel or respond to it. Every time one of you does answer him, it gives him a rise, feeds his narcissistic need for attention. Best thing to do is completely ignore him.

          1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: One way online advertising might change?

            And who says I read his drivel? Still, it would be more convenient if I did not have to scroll through it :D

        2. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: One way online advertising might change?

          "Shame really that El Reg does not give an option to hide the posts from such like you, but perhaps your boneheaded stubbornness will give them the motivation to implement such feature."

          The problem with an option to hide someone's posts is that you might still see replies quoting them - so what would be needed would be an option to kill both from your feed, and that would need much better threading than we presently see on El Reg. (However, for all we know that threading might actually be there, and we only see something more limited).

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. illiad

      Re: One way online advertising might change?

      the problem is the dumb Mule lovers... (hey, its a SIMILE, girls! look it up!!!!)

      the devs say..

      "NO! That is how I can afford my rent, the cheques from googladsservices... I dont CARE if the same one is used to stop ads on pron or malware!!!"

      BUT the main problem is * the whole fffin world!* - If it was THAT easy, flash would be a bad memory...

  36. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Back to basics

    Let me return you to what it's all about. The advertisers, 1 in my previous post, want to entice members of the public, 4 to buy their products. The advertising industry, 2, are offering their services to do that.

    Imagine, for the moment that I have a product I want to sell - garden furniture, ice cream, readymix concrete, whatever. Would FF22 or any other apologist for the advertising industry please explain how you'd sell me your services; you're offering a medium which has proved so unpopular to the public that you're reduced to pleading or haranguing them to stop blocking it. Now take it from there and explain how you're going to use this unpopular medium to improve my sales.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Back to basics

      I block ads, because I don't have any use for them. They distract my attention enough from the content to annoy me, but not enough to capture my interest. So by using an adblocker I'm giving them a big hint : I'm not going to click on any ad, ever. Serving it me is a waste of time. Don't bother.

      FF22 seems to think that some of those ads are worthwhile, that it's worth the advertiser paying the publisher to push it to me. But they're not. because google has killed advertising : not with over-intrusive ads, but with search.

      At one time, if I wanted to make a purchase, I had restricted ways of researching it. I might ask colleagues. I might go to the library. I might visit some shops. I might recall an advert I saw in a newspaper (but that's unlikely .. the newspaper carries many ads, but there are many, many times more 'things' to be bought. The chances that someone will advertise what i want at the time I want it are tiny). But now, there's a new solution : internet search. So I won't rely on the old, inefficient ways : i'll do a targeted search, and I'll keep refining the search terms until I find what I want. In this new world, advertising has no function.

      If that means publishers can't use it to pay the bills ... well, tough. Nobody owes you a living. The ad industry might have taken money from advertisers for a while, but it's a dead model : between the ability of search engines to find what you want, and the desire of consumers not to have their browsing experience ruined by ads, they're not going to stay viable. Look for another method to fund your site.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about HOSTS file blocking...

    How is that detection done...???

    (Forbes.com etc blocks content...)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those using HOSTS file blocking...

    How do website detection scripts work with respect to that? (Forbes.com etc)

    1. Peter Ford

      Re: For those using HOSTS file blocking...

      I have a slightly more elaborate version of the HOSTS blocking: I have a dummy web server that servers up an empty page when requested, and any domains and sites I wish to block are listed in my local DNS which points them to my dummy web server.

      The joy of this is that any machine connected to that network, unless it overrides the DNS settings fed by the DHCP service, gets the same advert treatment whatever browser they use. It also allows adverts served by the content provider to pass through as long as it comes from a server that is not otherwise blocked. I notice that the Register pages have very little advertising on my browsers, except the sneaky job adverts from Technojobs that are served by a proxy page...

      As far as I can tell, sites such as Forbes check for the existence of markers in the advert content and assume that if it's not there then you are blocking their adverts.In that sense, because they are detecting the absence of something loading, perhaps they are already working around the situation which this whole article presents as illegal. If you base your decision on what is not there, then could you could posit that no personal information has been stored or retrieved?

      1. Alexander Hanff 1

        Re: For those using HOSTS file blocking...

        As I stated below, the ePD is not restricted to personal information, it covers all information.

  39. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    So people who pay for content should be spared ads ?

    How does that square with Sky and other subscription *TV* services ?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So people who pay for content should be spared ads ?

      "How does that square with Sky and other subscription *TV* services ?"

      It doesn't. That's one reason why I don't have Sky.

  40. anniemouse

    confused - - - -

    please tell in client server terms who is block what?

    currently i understand this to mean if i arun adblockers, which i do, the server is detect this and forbidding me to see the website?

    And then something grabs your personal data???

    not seeing this.

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: confused - - - -

      It is nothing to do with personal data - the ePrivacy Directive forbids access to -any- information on the terminal equipment of the user and also forbids web sites from storing any information on that same terminal equipment without clear consent which is informed and freely given.

      AdBlock detectors are embedded as javascripts into the html files the publisher puts on their web server (either embedded directly inline or linked to) - the user is not aware of this until the web page is downloaded and viewed in their browser - the script then analyses the information stored on your terminal equipment (the web page) to see if the ads have been removed, without the consent of the user.

      So the detectors are in breach of both parts of the law:

      1. When they are stored on the computer/device

      2. When they execute and access information stored on the computer/device.

      It is really straight forward.

      1. kryptonaut

        Re: confused - - - -

        @Alexander Hanff 1 - I think you are confused as to what is happening with ad-block-blockers.

        As you point out, they are running javascript code which is served with the website in question. The code detects whether the ad has been displayed, and takes some action according to what it discovers.

        However, it does not have to store anything on the computer, in the way that cookies are stored. Nor does it have to access information stored on the computer, in the way that cookies are read.

        What it does is query the way the page has been displayed and take some action. The code is part of the page that is downloaded, it does not install itself, or cache its results for a later time. It is run each time the page is loaded.

        Responsive web pages have to do this kind of thing all the time, altering their display/operation to suit the capabilities and settings of the machine they are running on. For example a touch-screen device often has to behave differently from a mouse-input device. It is perfectly normal behaviour for a website to interrogate its environment to work out how to display itself to the user, and it can do this without storing data or reading stored data.

        You may have legitimate concerns about unwanted ads, but you are incorrect in your assumptions about how ad-block-blockers work, and hence their legality or otherwise under this ruling.

        1. Alexander Hanff 1

          Re: confused - - - -

          The javascript is STORED on the device before it is executed - it has to be in order to be executed.

          The web page (and how it is rendered) is STORED on the device.

          The STORED javascript inspects the DOM of the STORED web page to determine whether or not an Ad has been rendered.

          All of this falls under the definition of 5(3).

          The javascript is embedded into the html document either inline or linked to as an external script by the developer - it doesn't just magically end up in there all on its own - it is put in there with the sole purpose of accessing information on the client to determine whether or not an adblocker has been used.

          Exemptions exist for a service explicitly requested by the user (so javascript which is detecting screen resolution, orientation etc for the purpose of responsive design is completely legal) and I really wish adverpologists would stop deliberately attempting to obfuscate the discussion by making these false claims that all javascript would suddenly become illegal (especially since the exemptions are listed in the Commission letter).

          So it is you who are misunderstanding the law, not me misunderstanding the technology.

          1. kryptonaut

            Re: confused - - - -

            Where exactly do you believe this javascript is stored? It is simply held in memory and then discarded when the webpage is closed, which is not what most reasonable people would consider being stored on their machine. It is not written to permanent/persistent storage, which is what the letter is referring to in Article 5.3

            I understand that you hate ads, that you love being able to use an ad-blocker, and that you hate websites trying to stop you from doing so. But I don't think this letter is giving you the legal support that you are hoping for.

            1. David Nash Silver badge

              Re: confused - - - -

              Held in memory = stored in memory.

              1. jaywin

                Re: confused - - - -

                > Held in memory = stored in memory.

                From Article 5.3:

                "This shall not prevent any technical storage or access for the sole purpose of carrying out or facilitating the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network"

                So the temporary storage of a script locally in order to enable that to be executed is not covered by the article.

                AFAICT, Alexander is arguing that because a piece of javascript is looking at the contents of the page it was loaded with, it is "gain[ing] access to information stored in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user". I'm not sure I can agree with that, especially if that data is only stored there for technical reasons (which is allowed), and the script is only looking for the lack of an external resource being loaded (in which case it's not interested in any information that is stored on the terminal equipment, it's interested in the remote information).

                He says that scripts accessing information from the DOM for various purposes are allowed, but I can't see anything in the actual text that means this looking to see if something has been removed from the DOM / not loaded would be banned. There are a multitude of valid reasons for using the same techniques (probably the exact same source code - something isn't there, load an alternative - be that alternative text / error message / etc), so I'm not sure you could really ban this because it happens to be caused by the existence of another piece of software (of which the javascript would remain unaware of).

                Now, if the script was storing a cookie to say you've got an adblocker, or transmitting back to the server information about your computer and it's adblocking, there's plenty in the directive to use to complain about, but if it's happening locally, and nothing is being stored, I just can't see how it falls foul of the article.

                For reference - full [English] text of article 5.3:

                "3. Member States shall ensure that the use of electronic communications networks to store information or to gain access to information stored in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is only allowed on condition that the subscriber or user concerned is provided with clear and comprehensive information in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC, inter alia about the purposes of the processing, and is offered the right to refuse such processing by the data controller. This shall not prevent any technical storage or access for the sole purpose of carrying out or facilitating the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network, or as strictly necessary in order to provide an information society service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user."

                1. Alexander Hanff 1

                  Re: confused - - - -

                  Javascript specifically developed to detect the use of an adblocker could never be considered as "for the sole purpose of carrying out or facilitating the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network" - seriously where do you come up with this rubbish?

                  These scripts are covered by the Directive (as clarified by the European Commission) and fall into the same category as Spyware.

                  Let me make this clear to you once more - the European Commission -wrote- the law, trying to claim their interpretation of the law is wrong is beyond ridiculous.

                  It doesn't matter a damn what you think, what I think or what everyone else thinks - what matters is what the Regulators and the EU Commission thinks and they all agree that this activity is both covered by the Directive and illegal - please get that into your head.

                  There is a very good reason I spent 14 months traveling Europe talking to regulators and legislators before commencing with any legal actions - to ensure that they would support and act on such actions. So whether you agree with the law or not, whether you agree with my interpretation of the law or not is wholly irrelevant - those responsible for writing and enforcing the law do and we will see what action they choose to take when I file my legal complaints.

                  And even if these test cases end up in the CJEU - the CJEU -always- relies on recitals for interpretations of laws and the recitals support this viewpoint fully.

                  Nothing is certain in law (that is why these are "test cases") but there comes a point where you have to admit you are unlikely to win and in this matter the publishers and adtech industry are up against the full weight of regulators and the European Commission - it is not likely they are going to win...

                  So please do stop posting nonsense - read the law, understand the law and read the opinion of the Commission. I will not respond further to obvious industry trolls repeating the same deliberately incorrect and misleading crap over and over again.

                  1. jaywin

                    Re: confused - - - -

                    Right, firstly, give up with the industry shill nonsense. Look through my previous posts, you'll see I'm a developer. I have with nothing to do with the advertising industry. I'm interested in this topic, the technical details of such, and your interpretations, and it'd be nice to get a sensible discussion out of that.

                    At no point did I say you were completely wrong - in fact I clearly said some behaviour - notably tracking and registering the presence of an adblocker would be covered by the directive. What I'm doing is questioning your assertions that all anti-adblock scripts are illegal. Now, if you'd like to explain to me why I'm wrong, that's fine, I'll happily admit you've spent a lot longer looking into this than me. But please give me a little more than "the big man told me I was right", and "everyone's opinions are worthless, but mine's right".

                    So...

                    > Javascript specifically developed to detect the use of an adblocker could never be considered as "for the sole purpose of carrying out or facilitating the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network" - seriously where do you come up with this rubbish?

                    That's not what I said. I said the Javascript is only being executed from your computer because it's a necessary technical requirement, behaviour which is expressly permitted. If the page is set to no-cache, and is small enough, there's a reasonable chance it will never be stored locally apart from in RAM. And besides, the directive is talking about retrieving information from the user's equipment, which this behaviour is clearly not doing. It doesn't say anything about banning script activity that the user has moral objections against. Only those that may result in private information being transmitted.

                    It would be possible for me to write a piece of javascript, which would prevent someone from easily viewing content if they have an adblocker, but that doesn't reveal that to myself, or store that information anywhere. Please explain to me how that would cause any privacy implications to the visitors to that page, because I just can't see it. [Again, if I was sending that information back to myself, or storing it locally, I can see your point and agree that the directive would apply]. Forcing someone to view an advert also doesn't imply any privacy revelations [e.g. static advert served identically to everyone with nothing other than number of views being stored].

                    > Nothing is certain in law (that is why these are "test cases")

                    Well quite. Not that you would have gotten that impression from the rest of your post...

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: confused - - - -

                      >That's not what I said. I said the Javascript is only being executed from your computer because it's a necessary technical requirement, behaviour which is expressly permitted. If the page is set to no-cache, and is small enough, there's a reasonable chance it will never be stored locally apart from in RAM. And besides, the directive is talking about retrieving information from the user's equipment, which this behaviour is clearly not doing

                      You're about the 10th person to point this out - I've written several such scripts. [I mostly work on sites which target educators who often access via the educational ISP/LEA networks which have blocked AdSense etc at proxy level for years now].

                      Scripts are used to swap out content when ads are not displayed - they are not detecting casuality - which might be ad blocker, proxy, AdSense timeout or lack of an available ad [a common side effect of a busy non-blocking proxy use across a network with many seats and similar soft-edges]

                      Sometimes alternate content is internal linkage to fill the whitespace, other times locally served ads to events, products, sometimes third-party link shares or referrals. There's no tracking or 'server callback' involved, scripts are necessarily both dynamically generated and explicitly uncached - either by browser or proxy.

                      This use case is covered by the legislation - you have not referred to it in your letter and have asked instead about data storage and implied privacy issues which do not generally exist.

                      1. Alexander Hanff 1

                        Re: confused - - - -

                        And you clearly are unable to read as well.

                        The scripts in question are used for the specific purpose of detecting adblockers - they print a lovely message on the screen saying "YOU ARE USING AN ADBLOCKER PLEASE TURN IT OFF" (or words similar depending on the tool) - their ENTIRE purpose is to detect the use of an adblocker, some even look for specific adblockers as opposed to just any adblocker (for example there are some which block AdBlock Plus but do not block other adblockers - they look for behaviour specifically related to the use of adblock plus).

                        So please do stop talking so much crap about other scripts, scripts which are not for detecting adblockers etc. The issue discussed between myself, regulators, lawyers and legislators has been specifically about scripts which are designed for the sole purpose of detecting/circumventing adblockers.

                        You have not been party to those discussions, so please stop trying to tell me what was said in those discussions because you don't know. All discussions have taken place with technical experts and legal experts present - the letter is just a formal written version of the response I received verbally 14 months ago after such a meeting.

                        Now no matter how many times you guys try to turn this into something it isn't, try to talk about other scripts, other tools or other technologies - it will not change what has happened, it will not change what is going to happen. Legal test cases will be filed, publishers will be investigated and judgments will be made. Get over it already.

                        If the regulators think there is no legal issue then the judgments will support your arguments - if the regulators think there is a legal issue then the judgments will support my arguments.

                        1. jaywin

                          Re: confused - - - -

                          > they print a lovely message on the screen saying "YOU ARE USING AN ADBLOCKER PLEASE TURN IT OFF"

                          And, pray tell, *how* does that affect anyone's privacy?

                          > they print a lovely message on the screen saying "YOU ARE USING AN ADBLOCKER PLEASE TURN IT OFF"

                          And, pray tell, how does that differ to it printing a lovely message on the screen saying "BUY DAVE'S CANDLES, THEY'RE REALLY BRIGHT" or "Something went wrong, click here to try again"?

                        2. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: confused - - - -

                          >no matter how many times you guys try to turn this into something it isn't, try to talk about other scripts, other tools or other technologies

                          Really? You started by saying you'd done extensive research, then incorrectly described the technology to a site read by people who actually develop it for a living.

                          >They print a lovely message on the screen saying "YOU ARE USING AN ADBLOCKER PLEASE TURN IT OFF.

                          Which is what I described - the process is identical - as is the "YOU ARE USING AN ADBLOCKER PLEASE TURN IT OFF" experience for filtered proxy users because scripts detect the absence of adverts not the presence of particular extensions on the client - doing so would be pointless as it is trivial for the developers of ad blocking extensions to disguise them.

                          >The issue discussed between myself, regulators, lawyers and legislators

                          You're wasting your time but I doubt they'll waste theirs - beyond interns responding to your ramblings as they are required to.

                  2. kryptonaut

                    Re: confused - - - -

                    It would be very interesting to see a copy of the letter you wrote, which elicited the response we've seen. The response appears to be talking about a situation which, I would suggest, does not reflect what really happens when an ad-blocker is blocked.

                    If the initial question was phrased so that the recipient got the wrong idea about the situation that you wanted clarifying, then the response is not really going to represent how the case would go in a court of law, and you are unlikely to win.

                    You might convince people here that you have a case, because they really really want it to be true, but that isn't going to be good enough in the courts. They will ask you what personal data is being stored/retrieved on the user's machine and where, and the truth is that nothing is being stored or retrieved as defined in the legislation, and the case will go no further.

  41. jake Silver badge

    Ads online?

    They still exist? Who knew!

  42. Hstubbe

    Making money is no excuse for providing a conduit for malware

    It is not so much the privacy concern (we're all screwed on that front anyway with the yanks and their KGB mentality) that bothers me, it's the security side. Ads have been used and are used as a vector to spread malware on many occassions. So if a site owner tells me (by installing an ad-blocker detector on their site): 'hey, i want to make money and I'm perfectly willing to sacrifice your online security for that', I say 'well, thanks but no thanks'. With an ad-blocker the web is a much better and somewhat safer place.

    The ad business is a corrupt business where the only important thing is generating revenue for the ad-businesses themselves, no matter what the privacy and security impact is. The people who operate the ad networks and the people who use ad networks are crooks in my eyes, and should be locked up.

  43. Hstubbe

    Ads are bad, mmkay

    Privacy is dead, thanks to totalitarian countries such as the US and Russia with their KGB mentality.

    However, there's also a security aspect here. Ad networks are quite a popular vector for spreading malware, which is the primary reason I use an adblocker. And when a site owner declares 'I don't care about your online security, eat the ads some shady company puts on my website', they deserve bankrupcy. It's irresponsible, and causes big economic damage world-wide.

    Ad network operators and site owners that force ads upon unsuspecting users are malware-spreading crooks and should be locked up behind bars.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

      You know, if there weren't ad networks, the malcontents would just go on to attack the sites themselves. How many website defacings have we had this year so far, hmm? Let's face it. Haters gonna hate, and ads have been here for a long time, will be here for a long time, and have always gotten more and more obnoxious simply because the average person ignores anything else, and if people abandon a medium and move on to another one, the ad people will already be there waiting for them. Pretty sure the next will come along WON'T be less obtrusive ads (that summarily get ignored) but ad walls that force you into a Take It Or Leave It. Then you either accept the ad like you do on live TV or, to quote the Smash Mouth hit, "You might as well be walking on the Sun."

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

        "Take It Or Leave It."

        Fine, I'll leave it. That denies you any alternative means of raising revenue.

        "Then you either accept the ad like you do on live TV"

        Live TV? MythTV and >>

        1. jason 7

          Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

          "Live TV" there is another example of the Ad people's reality disconnect. Anyone with any sense and money watches TV on demand and just clicks straight passed the ads.

          Watching ads on TV is a thing of the past. Is the Shake & Vac lady still on?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

            TV on Demand BLOCKS ad skipping. Trust me. I've tried.

            1. jason 7

              Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

              Not on any of my systems/PVR etc.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

          "Fine, I'll leave it. That denies you any alternative means of raising revenue.'

          Yes there is. Junk calls. Junk mail. Billboards. Tons of ways in the real world. Sure, abandon the Internet. We'll be waiting for you outside. Unless you intend to disconnect completely from society and go out and live somewhere like in Alaska.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

            "Junk calls."

            TPS. Offenders either get the long weight treatment or get grassed up to ICO/Ofcom as appropriate to build the case for those nice fines.

            "Junk mail."

            AKA letter-box litter - let's clearly identify it as what it is: pollution. Gets posted back. I don't give a damn whether it's the offender or Royal Mail who carries the cost. Frankly, if everyone did this I think junk mail would die a quick death as it would put real costs back where they belong on the polluter pays principle. I don't see why council tax payers should be burdened with the cost of other people's litter.

            And in general let's be clear about the effects of this - if this crap comes from businesses I deal with it gets counted as negative customer service. My current house insurance will go elsewhere at next renewal due to the current insurer's incontinence with spam. A previous insurer lost the business due to letter-box litter. British Gas stopped trying to sell me electricity when I made it crystal clear that one more call would cost them their existing business with me.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

              "TPS. Offenders either get the long weight treatment or get grassed up to ICO/Ofcom as appropriate to build the case for those nice fines."

              Until you find out the calls came internationally from foreign countries who could care less about EU law. After all, they're sovereign and follow their own laws. Plus the numbers are frequently throwaways meaning blocking them one by one becomes a game of whack-a-mole.

              "AKA letter-box litter - let's clearly identify it as what it is: pollution. Gets posted back."

              (a) It doesn't get picked up, (b) The Return to Sender gets Returned to Sender because the return address doesn't exist and the company was a shill that's disappeared, (c) You have to pay the postage. Trust me. These ad men know all the tricks better than you do. They can either play the law against you or know how to vanish.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

                "Until you find out the calls came internationally from foreign countries who could care less about EU law."

                The callers get sent for a long weight. It seems to work, I get very few of them. I really should get round to making a note of who they're representing. There's little point in making a sales call if the business they're selling on behalf of doesn't have some toehold in this jurisdiction and AFAIK the principals are responsible for the actions of their agents.

                Sadly the only call from "Microsoft Support" was missed. An opportunity wasted.

                "(a) It doesn't get picked up"etc.

                It goes into the post box. It gets picked up when the post box gets cleared. Frankly I don't care whether the original sender or the Royal Mail picks up the cost, it isn't me. The Royal Mail now has contracts for delivering bulk unaddressed mail. They really ought to be responsible for the costs of disposal and pass that on as part of the contract charges. The councils for the areas to which they distribute this litter shouldn't be responsible for disposal, the polluter should pay.

                1. VinceH Silver badge

                  Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

                  "The Royal Mail now has contracts for delivering bulk unaddressed mail. They really ought to be responsible for the costs of disposal and pass that on as part of the contract charges."

                  Quite so - and if enough people put unaddressed stuff delivered by Royal Mail into the nearest "red recycling bin" that Royal Mail kindly provides especially for the purpose*, that's what will happen.

                  Sadly, too many people put it in their own recycling bin, thus adding to the costs they themselves incur in the form of council tax.

                  * Bonus points awarded for marking the crud "not at this address"

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

                "Until you find out the calls came internationally from foreign countries who could care less about EU law."

                Follow the money. The non-scam calls always trace back to a business which is local to you - and holding that business responsible for the actions of the people they hired to advertise would go a long way towards solving the problem.

                This is why the USA's TCPA holds both parties jointly and severally liable.

      2. Hstubbe

        Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

        Using an ad network to spread malware is millions more effective than having to crack into hundreds of thousands individual webservers. Basically, ad networks provide a damn effective way to get the most co puters infected by expending the least amount of effort.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Ads are bad, mmkay

          True, but given the number of direct attacks and web defacings, I'd say the crooks are willing to put forth the effort if pressed, so I wouldn't call this a way to victory by any stretch.

  44. rdube02

    Blocking ad-blockers is good

    I run a website and successfully block ad-blockers without the need to probe browser cookies. It's easy and doesn't invade anyone's privacy. Nothing is free, and if ad-blockers win this war, the Internet will become a place only for the rich and wealthy -- sure, it'll be ad-free at that point, but inaccessible without a subscription. I'm holding off on doing that as long as possible, but at this rate it's inevitable. It's very sad.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Blocking ad-blockers is good

      "I run a website and successfully block ad-blockers without the need to probe browser cookies."

      And when you find there aren't enough ad-swallowing visitors to make your site viable what do you do then?

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Blocking ad-blockers is good

        Pay the £7 a month yourself?

  45. yasirimam

    look cool.! i am pretty sure there would be some future business planning in this conspiracy.

  46. cortland

    They might learn

    Tell them you appreciate their concerns and agree -- so you'll stop reading their content and find it elsewhere on the Web unmolested by popups.

    A quick CTRLA/CTRL C can snatch the first page before the popup appears on the screen, too.

    Of course, a word to a wise man is enough – but a whole paragraph is wasted on a damfool.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: They might learn

      "Tell them you appreciate their concerns and agree -- so you'll stop reading their content and find it elsewhere on the Web unmolested by popups."

      To which they'll respond, "Good luck. Our content is exclusive."

      1. Alexander Hanff 1

        Re: They might learn

        One day they might actually learn that there is no such thing as "exclusive content" on the Internet - it can -always- be found somewhere else.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: They might learn

          "It can -always- be found somewhere else."

          NOPE. I speak from experience. When it comes to things like obscure device drivers, it's like trying to find a bone needle in a haystack (and no, either no hardware substitutes are available or it'll mean a lot of money). Plus there are plenty of other things that take great pains to make sure there is one and only one source, usually content that quickly stales or enforces copyright.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: They might learn

            "When it comes to things like obscure device drivers"

            Extreme edge cases are unlikely to be enough for the survival of such a thoroughly unpopular branch of the advertising industry.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: They might learn

              The thing about edge cases is that they don't stay edge cases for long. Many times, they transform into norms as people latch onto them. Mark my words, ads will never go away. You'll just run into more ad walls until they're all over the Internet. Then it'll be either submit or abandon the Internet, in which case it's back to the junk mail (with nonexistent return addresses so any attempts to Return to Sender get Returned to Sender) and the international IP phone spam calls that are routed through hostile powers.

  47. jason 7

    Online advertising....

    ...is as useful and wanted as the old paper Yellow Pages and phone book. They still deliver those tombstones to our apartments. All of them go straight in the recycling.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Online advertising....

      Jason 7 That's probably a better parallel than you realise. For years we've been getting Barnet phone books, yellow pages etc. Because we live in the Borough of Barnet. But we live in the bit that has a London postcode (and phone number). The Barnet directories never had any relevance for us, we know nobody who lives, and hardly even set foot, in those parts of Barnet from one year to the next. In the old days, when the books were useful, they originally used to supply the books we needed ( London) but they stopped doing that. We repeatedly asked for the London books instead, but they insist(ed) on sending Barnet ones - because we "live in Barnet" - which made the recycling bin that much heavier.

      So much for "targeted advertising".

      (AC, too much personal information here already).

    2. Captain Badmouth
      Terminator

      Online advertising : @ FF22

      Re: One way online advertising might change?

      @FF22

      "One thing is for sure: until ad blocking goes in recess, the internet will be less and less fun everyone, the content and service quality will keep decreasing, and generally, it will cost more and more for users to use services and consume content.

      This process or worsening is already underway, has been for years, and that's what you're actually complaining about. Bad ads are part of this. And ad blocking escalate this problem."

      I've finally gotten to the end of these 6 pages of posts from over the weekend.

      The only conclusion I've reached is that you should change your user name to CACHE22.

      Icon for advertising genius.

  48. DubyaG

    A blocker to block the anti-blocker

    Time for the next escalation of this war. We need an anti-anti-adblocker blocker. Perhaps one that convinces the site that you are not running a blocker. My head hurts now.

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: A blocker to block the anti-blocker

      The already exist - but I prefer to take the legal route than keep playing cat and mouse.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: A blocker to block the anti-blocker

      You can't do that without wasting bandwidth. Servers can always tell if something is requested or not, meaning you can't ad-block without them knowing you're ad-blocking.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: A blocker to block the anti-blocker

        "You can't do that without wasting bandwidth."

        Serving ads, particularly big chunks of video, to someone who will only take an instant dislike to the ad and consequently to whatever it's advertising isn't a good way of conserving bandwidth.

        "Servers can always tell if something is requested or not, meaning you can't ad-block without them knowing you're ad-blocking."

        Request and send to /dev/null would be effective where bandwidth isn't a consideration. It's the nearest you could get to a win/win. The publisher gets paid and the advertiser, who'd have paid anyway if the ad was seen, doesn't get identified to the user and so doesn't lose out if they were a potential customer. It would be in the advertising industry's best interests not to try to detect this.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: A blocker to block the anti-blocker

          Except it's a lose to people with tight bandwidth caps. There's no physical way to block the transfer of the ad AND fool the server into thinking it was loaded without either it smelling something fishy or using a third party that would have its own constraints.

      2. Vic

        Re: A blocker to block the anti-blocker

        Servers can always tell if something is requested or not

        From a third-party website?

        Vic.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: A blocker to block the anti-blocker

          "From a third-party website?"

          Sure. They just need to talk to each other, which they probably do anyway. Don't YOU get in touch with any agents you employ?

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  49. Anne Other

    Astroturf

    Loving the constant shifts between 1st & 3rd party in the (obviously sponsored) comments of the merkin (yes, we realiZed) industry shills. They, We, make up your mind :D

    Isn't there also some legislation about sponsored comments, reviews etc requiring sponsored status to be stated.

    At the end of the day the only way to win an argument with a brick wall is not to argue, but to break out a big hammer. Rather fittingly maybe, it's like exposing astroturf to daylight and expecting it to grow. It is simply incapable.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Alexander Hanff / Ian Thomson

    You seem to have missed the disclaimer at the beginning of every response from the European Commission, which says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Please find below the reply to your enquiry. Please note that the advice given by Your Europe Advice is an independent advice and cannot be considered to be the opinion of the European Commission, of any other EU institution or its staff nor will this advice be binding upon the European Commission, any other EU or national institution.

    So, while an opinion from EC staff tends to carry some "moral" weight, it is not legally binding in any way. I presume that's why Ian has used the evasive words: "could be illegal", which is a typical journalistic device to suggest something without publishing an outright falsehood ("could be illegal" may also mean any of: "could be legal", "is probably illegal", "is probably legal", "hasn't been found to be illegal", "hasn't been found to be legal", etc., etc.). Obviously the connotations are different.

    I do commend Alexander for making use of an excellent resource as is the European Commission's "Your Europe Advice" service, but he has sinned of inexperience and possibly a lack of sufficient familiarity with our political system¹. Still, it's a start. :-)

    And by the way, Alex, as regards your Twatter profile image, isn't it missing something²?

    ¹ Which doesn't say much about some aspects of the education we receive here in Europe. You would think that every boy and girl leaving secondary school and therefore of voting age or nearly, would know how to effectively participate in every facet of our political system, including proposing new laws, challenging existing ones, and participating in debates at the lawmaking stage. As opposed to voting the reds or the blues, whoever has the most popular music video this campaign.

    ² Not mentioning Iraq, Syria, Mali, Libya, Chad, ...

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Re: @ Alexander Hanff / Ian Thomson

      Well that might be the case had I written to the "Your Europe Advice" service but I didn't and the letter has no such disclaimer. I wrote directly to President Juncker who tasked the response directly to Gunther Oettinger.

      Still it is nice to know that my stalkers are still wasting their lives obsessing over me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ Alexander Hanff / Ian Thomson

        > Well that might be the case had I written to the "Your Europe Advice" service but I didn't and the letter has no such disclaimer.

        Fair enough about the disclaimer if you say so, and I see that your response was handled by a member of cabinet. It went through a different path, though the outcome is the same. I have followed the Twatter link in Ian's article but I only seem to find the first two pages of the response--for context, it might be better if you could post the rest as well as your original enquiry.

        [ Word of advice to others: use Your Europe Advice. They tend to know who is in the best position to provide an answer in your specific case and there is a well-established follow-up procedure so replies usually come through a lot quicker (one / two days for less complex matters, as opposed to up to three months). ]

        In any case, I'm not at all criticising your actions--on the contrary, more involvement in the democratic process and interaction with the administration and executive powers at all levels must be encouraged. I do, however, perceive that you might be a little misguided as to the meaning and effect of EC commentary.

        Presenting challenges through the courts as Ian's article claims you are intending to do is one way to go, but be prepared for a disappointment when you go to see your lawyer with that letter in hand. As I have mentioned previously, it does carry some "moral" weight in some cases but it is not a legal opinion: the EC is an executive, not judiciary body--that would be the ECJ. Your lawyer should explain all this in some detail, as well as the process to be followed. A decent lawyer may also suggest that you discuss your concerns directly with the publishers first, if you haven't yet done that.

        Out of interest, why do you feel that ad-blocker blocking scripts are not covered by recital 22 of the ePrivacy Directive?

        > Still it is nice to know that my stalkers are still wasting their lives obsessing over me.

        ??? A bit of a narcissist, eh? :-) Seriously, if you intend to pursue a sideline as an activist, you will need to hone your social skills to achieve any degree of success.

    2. FF22

      Re: @ Alexander Hanff / Ian Thomson

      "You seem to have missed the disclaimer "

      If he'd have only missed that. But he obviously completely lacks even a basic understanding on how web technologies, browsers and even the EU data protection laws work. And that after he supposedly spent a year researching an issue. Ridiculous.

  51. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Huh, what?

    Is it April 1st?

  52. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Here is some anecdotal evidence that today's web is largely sh*t.

    I just fired up the default browser on a new installation of Windows.

    I was SHOCKED (yes, 7 reasons I was SHOCKED!!), seeing what I saw, and didn't see.

    What I saw was a freakshow of some kind of animated mess. What I didn't see was what I was hoping to see: Some mother-freaking relevant content.

    A quick install of Firefox and NoScript later, and things were back to normal. Thank God.

    Isn't commercialism just effing great? I positively long for the 28kBaud modem days.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm going to forego all discussion on the subject, and just give my final words:

    Anything that executes on my CPU IS MY PERSONAL EFFING BUSINESS, AND NO-ONE ELSE'S.

    I don't give a flying frack who thought they had some "right" to run anything on MY CPU.

    END OF.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Then here are the publisher's final words on the subject:

      MY content, MY rules. COPYRIGHT says so. Now Take It Or Leave It.

      1. Hstubbe

        I'll leave it..

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        "MY content, MY rules. COPYRIGHT says so. Now Take It Or Leave It."

        Leave it, obviously.

  54. FF22

    Discussion over. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but the discussion on this issue is practically over. Our dear activist has been proven wrong on all counts.

    In short: he missed, misinterpreted or deliberately ignored all relevant technological and juridical facts, and built a dream world for himself, which however has nothing to do with how browsers, the web or EU data protection laws in the real world actually work.

    To read a thorough analysis and summary on why he is wrong on all counts you just have to read this:

    http://blockadblock.com/adblocking/claim-detecting-adblock-may-illegal/

    No need to thank me. You're welcome.

    1. Captain Badmouth
      Terminator

      Re: Discussion over. Nothing to see here. Move along.

      @cache22

      You can still stick your ads up your arse.

      Icon : ad executive.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Discussion over. Nothing to see here. Move along.

      "http://blockadblock.com/adblocking/claim-detecting-adblock-may-illegal/"

      Interestingly, that site tried to drop a cookie on my browser without persmission in direct contravention of The 2009 ePrivacy Directive which, ironicly, it uses to try to discredit Hanff.

      The 2009 ePrivacy Directive

      In 2009 the EC passed the "ePrivacy Directive" as part of their Regulatory

      Framework for Electronic Communications. Among other things, the ePrivacy

      Directive requires any website using cookies to get user permission before

      setting or retrieving any persistent data.

      FWIW my browser of choice to visit the above referenced site was Lynx.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Discussion over. Nothing to see here. Move along.

        "FWIW my browser of choice to visit the above referenced site was Lynx."

        I used Lynx some 20 odd years ago.

        I just installed it again (Windows version this time), and it's quite refreshing to just read the actual text of articles. BBC seems to work OK with Lynx. (Nicer than with a modern browser in fact.)

        I don't much care for sensationalist images anyway, and video reporting I always avoid as it's a waste of time. (I just read what it was all about, and now you want me to listen to a reporter repeating it all, slowly, while looking into the camera?)

  55. This post has been deleted by its author

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is BBC blocking ad blockers? FOI request seem to suggest they are

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ad_block_plus_httpsadblockplusor

  57. BT Customer

    Hanff BadPublisher site closes

    https://adblocking.think-privacy.com/ has closed.

    @BadPublishers Twitter feed hasn't seen a post since June 2016.

    It would seem that not a single legal comlaint has been filed by Hanff against any publisher. Hanff assured us all that his threat to file charges was not an "empty gesture".

    http://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/people-right-block-ads-people-breaking-law-publishers-ad-tech-industry/

    ***************************************************

    "This isn’t an empty gesture, says Hanff: “I’m going to start taking action. I’ve got the European Commission supporting me on this, I have regulators supporting me on this, and I will start filing legal proceedings within the next four to six weeks.

    “I will be filing complaints to regulators in around eight to 10 member states initially, and then expanding that over time over the next 12 months to other regulators. My plan is to file complaints across the whole of Europe eventually.”"

    ***********************************************

    So what is happening? Has the whole thing quietly collapsed?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Hanff BadPublisher site closes

      He didn't really have a legal leg to stand on. Copyright favors the source, so the source can set terms. Second, a vendor can hold power of discretion unless there's a specific prohibition against it. A vendor is not required to sell; there are no buyer's rights, so strike two. Finally, technology and physics favor the source; there's simply no way to fool the server into thinking they're serving an ad without actually serving an ad (which means you use up your bandwidth, which for most people is limited). Because of the way the Internet works, they will know precisely where it's going, how much of it gets sent, and if it was completed, timed out, or aborted. They can make pretty good guesses from that.

      So the TL;DR version. Their content, their rules; they don't have to serve you if they don't want to; and if they require you to watch an ad beforehand, they have ways to make sure you pay the piper first. Take It or Leave It, which may well mean leaving the Internet.

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