back to article The case for ethical ad-blocking

When is ad-blocking ethical? How about when the adtech industry is behaving so unethically it destroys people’s livelihoods? Musician and music rights campaigner David Lowery last year made the incendiary suggestion that musicians should encourage their fans to block the advertising running on music-streaming sites – even …

  1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Typical of the advertising industry

    Immediately brand anything that threatens your business model as unethical. Without any sense of irony.

  2. N2 Silver badge

    When is ad-blocking ethical?

    100% of the time IMO as I dont want dross I'll never buy shoved in my face - if I go to a site that wants me to switch off Adblock, it gets dumped immediately.

    Sites excersice little control over who ultimately uses their advertising space, the BBC et all spewing malware in the form of ransomeware being a typical example.

    So they can all Foxtrott Oscar.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    I can see two cases for ethical ad-blocking

    1. When it prevents me from accessing the content in the first place. Have you tried accessing el-reg over a slow link (f.e. a couple of channels of Edge in the sticks) from abroad and using an under-powered machine. You will tolerate it without an ad-blocker for ~ 1 minute. After that you will reach for the technical solution to kill the X HP and Y Intel flash pieces of garbage on the page (where X+Y > 5).

    2. When the admen have crossed the line between humans and scum onto the scum side. That is pretty much any syndicated targeted ads nowdays.

    The industry is doing it to themselves forgetting the lesson of the early Google. Google early on bulldozed all the other ad brokers out of the way by having unobtrusive useful and non-resource hungry ads. We will tolerate that. Any day.

    Shouty intrusive crap like the one DoubleClick (it no longer deserves to be called Google) serves today based on digging through our dirty laundry basket (with or without IoT help) - nope, not so much.

  4. Tannin

    First questions first

    Since when has ad blocking ever been anything other than ethical? People have blocked ads since long before there was an Internet.

    Watching TV, most normal people look away, or turn the sound down, or get up to put the kettle on, or even change the channel when the ads come on.

    Reading the paper, who amongst us even sees the ads? We filter them out. We flick past them. We pull out the advertising supplement sections and put them to one side, ready to discard. We turn the pages past the full-page ads and, five minutes later, or even five seconds later, don't even know what the thing we filtered out was.

    The only thing that is new here is this pernicious notion - pushed you may be very sure by advertisers - that not looking at ads is suddenly a Wrong.Thing.

    It isn't a Wrong Thing. It never was. And no amount of propaganda - no amount even of advertising - can make it so.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why wouldn't ad blocking be ethical?

    I don't watch the ads on TV (although I don't watch TV), yet that's okay?

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      It's my screen.

      It displays what I want it to.

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: First questions first

      Let me hand you a powered megaphone & help you to the roof so you can shout that at the tops of your lungs for everyone to hear!

      Blocking ads isn't unethical, it's the ethical, moral, & smart thing to do. You wouldn't put up with someone digging in your kitchen trash bin to find all the current muck on you, then shouting in your face about how some product you bought wasn't as good as another, while simultaneously giving you a scathing case of SpaceHerpes for having listened to them, so why allow it to happen via your browser either? The advertisers set tracking cookies to datamine the hell out of you (dig through your trash), use that data to target ads to you (shouting about products you've used), and shag the hell out of your computer from all the virus', malware, & zero day exploits they spaff (SpaceHerpes), so PROTECTING YOURSELF IS NOT UNETHICAL.

      I'll stop protecting myself when you acknowledge your personal, financial, & criminal liability for your actions.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      When the advertising industry starts considering ethics in it's offerings I might allow that there's room for a discussion of the ethics of ad-blocking.

    4. Rol Silver badge

      Re: First questions first

      Just like you, I filter out all adverts, and as with everyone's exposure to them, the advert still gets brain space.

      Purposefully ignoring an advert does not stop that advert from subliminally working on your neurons and advertisers have known this for years, hence the furore over ads that ran for only a couple of frames in films and tv. Not long enough to notice them, but your brain still saw them, leaving you wondering, why all of a sudden you craved chocolate.

      Short of going all biblical on your offending eyes, I'm afraid only an intensive course of rational reasoning is going to stop you from being influenced by the devil's little helpers.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ tannin

      "who amongst us even sees the ads? We filter them out. We flick past them. We pull out the advertising supplement sections and put them to one side, ready to discard. We turn the pages past the full-page ads and, five minutes later, or even five seconds later, don't even know what the thing we filtered out was."

      People wouldn't continue to purchase advertising if it didn't pay more. I'd be the last to argue that doing what you and I do naturally is unethical. But I'm less confident that there is no subliminal influence of these rapidly sensed images in aggregate upon our subconscious minds. Does being subjected to and rejecting nearly all of many thousands of sales pitches you can get in a day change the way you feel and relate to others ? I know the difference a day visiting the metropolis has compared to a electronics free day in the countryside upon my state of mind.

      1. PNGuinn
        Mushroom

        I'll stop protecting myself when you acknowledge ...

        AND give me personal direct and cruel access to your most pain sensitive bits on a continuous basis.

        AND agree that I will have sole copyright and distribution rights to the resulting entertainment.

        Sorry - no deal - I think we will have to negotiate some more over this - someone pass me a bigger bloodstained LART please.

      2. Bullseyed

        Re: @ tannin

        "People wouldn't continue to purchase advertising if it didn't pay more."

        Simply not true. No one has any idea how much advertising actually pays. All of the employees on both sides depend on advertising 'working' for their jobs to continue to exist, so they report accordingly. Nobody wants to admit that they ate a Big Mac because they wanted to, so if you harass people with questions, they'll claim the advertising made them do it.

        And that's just the base layer. That doesn't account for the systemic fraud, routinely exposed on sites like Facebook, where they run bot armies to click links and likes to justify the advertising costs they charge their customers.

        1. ratfox Silver badge

          Re: @ tannin

          No one has any idea how much advertising actually pays.

          Google does! For them, it pays a lot. And note that Google does not get paid for just showing ads; the user actually had to click on them. Which must means there is somewhere a whole lot of users who like ads and click on them.

          I don't know who they are either.

          1. Ian 55

            Re: @ tannin

            How many of the 'whole lot of users' are human though?

          2. MJI Silver badge

            Re: @ tannin

            The clickers.

            Competitors

        2. BobChip
          Holmes

          Re: @ tannin - The "value" of advertising

          There is an assumption here that advertising only exists because it always pays. This is a very questionable assumption.

          One of the earliest proponents of advertising, John Wanamaker, is quoted as saying "Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is that I don't know which half." Many companies feel they must have an advertising budget, because if they don't, how will anyone know about them, or about "product x". it is a bit like taking out a high risk investment and hoping to win. But very few sit down and try to work out what sort of return, if any, they get on the investment.....

          And of course it is in the interests of the advertising industry to promote this behaviour, otherwise they would all be out of business. They just tell their customers to "trust me and keep paying into the investment"

          Think of advertising as a modern hard line religion, in which articles of faith are never to be challenged just in case the truth inadvertently comes out ......

          1. The Packrat

            Re: @ tannin - The "value" of advertising

            The main difference between online advertising and advertising in traditional media is metrics. With online advertising you can know exactly how often an ad has been "displayed" and how many have responded (click through on the link). Advertising in traditional media is more vague in that you can't say how many people have actually seen and/or paid attention to it, let alone been convinced to do whatever the ad was for...

      3. PNGuinn
        Mushroom

        When the advertising industry starts considering ethics ...

        So when porcine aviators get frostbitten in hell then.

        Sorry, scumbags - it WAS your move - AGES ago.

        It's too late now. Bye - and no thanks for all the ads.

      4. David 138

        Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

        I guess its also their site so they wont show it to you in that case :P Obviously what you want is premium level internet access for a fee per month. Google have already trialled it but people are just too tight to pay for services. People gota get paid!.

        The worst in advertising usually comes from porn, piracy, copy cat sites and facebook. So you could avoid those. People should at least consider supporting sites such as theregister because you are too tight to pay per month for it.

        Turn it off to support the sites you enjoy so you dont ruin it for everyone!! Tight ass people like yourself have already brought Micro Transactions upon mobile games, lets not do the same for the rest of the internet.

      5. P. Lee

        Re: First questions first

        I'm not sure "who doesn't filter adverts" is the first question.

        The first question is, to what extent should artists be paid when they aren't performing?

        A couple of things stood out in the article:

        1. there is no natural "right" to "intellectual property." IP is a fiction. Perhaps a useful fiction, but complaining that your monopoly is legally protected enough seems like a bad PR campaign. You might not notice a dip in revenue if youtube disappeared, but quite frankly, if most of the artists disappeared, most people wouldn't notice. Some people would, but you could lose an awful lot before most people noticed. Excludability might be the most "property-like" property of Intellectual Property, but intellectual property isn't property and in the UK at least, we often have public rights of way which (Horror!) trump private ownership.

        2. "The all-powerful middleman today is Big Tech. But changing copyright in favour of the little guy takes time, and isn't easy" Would that be the "little guys" like Sony BMG et al? Do we need to strengthen the rights holders like Simon Cowell? How many "little guys" are there who would have made it, if only youtube and the ASCAP/PRS hadn't tragically taken the money that was meant to feed their starving children? If we did what the article suggests, are we just shifting profit from one middleman (big tech) to another (the music label)? Which serves the public good better?

        My personal opinion is that it isn't generally the artists' skill which brings success, but the marketing. Certainly, skill is important, but the real money in the media industry comes from taking a cheap product and running a successful marketing campaign. Rinse and repeat. I'm not convinced that the film and music industries, while fun, actually improve the world that much.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

        "It displays what I want it to."

        I don't even tell it what to display or not - I just tell it not to display anything on EasyList. If the advertisers are so inept that they can't figure out how to get past EasyList, then that's their problem, not mine.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typical of the advertising industry

      Ads are lies and corporate propaganda. They can literally never be ethical.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical of the advertising industry

        "Ads are lies and corporate propaganda. They can literally never be ethical."

        I think they can. There are companies that make good products and if they don't advertise, how will you know they exist? The problem is simply the ad version of Gresham's Law, that bad advertising drives out good. But without advertising you would have to visit a dedicated shop for everything, and that means shelf space would only be given to the products that made the most money for the shop - not the best.

        In print media, the UK is far better than the US in this regard.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typical of the advertising industry

          Good products don't need to advertise. Somehow everyone seems to just know they're the best in their industry.

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: Typical of the advertising industry

            Good products don't need to advertise. Somehow everyone seems to just know they're the best in their industry

            Schnorfle! You owe me a new keyboard. How do I find out which is the best?

    7. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      if I go to a site that wants me to switch off Adblock, it gets dumped immediately.

      Exactly. If I walk into a supermarket and one of those nice ladies with a sample tray approaches me to ask if I'd like to try a piece of cheese, but keeps trying to get me to taste her cheese even after I've said cheese makes me chuck and I never buy the bilious muck, the supermarket won't be surprised if I walk out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

        I'm allergic to the musk oil used in some perfumes. At One time the big stores like to position some one at the entrance to spray the customers. I had to file suit against one of them for assault in order to get them to stop.

        I will continue to block ads because I am allergic to malware.

      2. PNGuinn
        Trollface

        If I walk into a supermarket ...

        Or - take a bit under protest, pull a nasty face over eating it, barf all over the samples trolley, and the floor, and THEN leave, threatening to sue ....

    8. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      It's very ethical in my mind. If the ads did not deliver malware, if they weren't full of Flash - noise - blinking lights, I'd let them through. But given the circumstances of malware alone, they get blocked just like certain sites. Since the ad agencies and the websites that run the ads won't police themselves, we have to do it for them and best way is to block and destroy the revenue stream.

    9. PleebSmasher
      Dead Vulture

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      Once malvertising hit the scene, any credibility that advertisers may have had regarding ad-blocking disappeared.

    10. h4rm0ny

      Well it would be unethical when it resulted in harm, I guess. That's the usual basis of ethics. And I can certainly see that stripping out the way sites such as El Reg make money but still taking their product harms the site. Yes, it's not enforced by a contract or DRM, but I don't necessarily take the position that anything not actively locked down or forbidden by contract becomes okay to do. On the whole, I am fine with sites having advertising and I respect that I am getting something from the site so I have the courtesy to not block them getting something from me for it. Legality is of little interest to me as in my experience the law often has only a passing acquaintance with ethics (and sadly, the entire history of government in this species will probably back me up on that :/ ).

      Where I do feel entitled to block it, is when it starts spying on me. That is an actively aggressive act which I reject. I do not appreciate that to use the Internet I must submit to giant ad corporations knowing everything I do and everywhere I go.

      So in short: I'm fine with advertising and wont normally block it because I want the sites I like to be profitable and their employees to be paid. But I despise tracking and will cheerfully do what I can to stop that, even giving up the odd site (such as forbes.com) that make it too difficult to avoid.

    11. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: First questions first

      Ads are like content. There's a choice. What the ad companies want is forced viewing. Imagine the hell that would be raised if, say, FB wanted a mandate that FB is your homepage on your browser and you WILL look at it? Or a TV network got a mandate that your TV had to tune to their network for X hours a day. Sorry ad guys, I'll tell you the same thing I'd tell any other company that demands a mandate.... FO.

    12. Florida1920

      Why wouldn't ad blocking be ethical?

      Exactly. Ad blocking is the Web version of the Mute button.

    13. PNGuinn
      Trollface

      Re: First questions first

      Ad Blocking is Piracy.

      Piracy is theft.

      Theft kills kittens.

      I hate cats.

      What's not to like?

    14. cyberdemon
      Linux

      Just block JavaScript

      Use NoScript (firefox), ScriptNo (chrome), etc.

      None of the "bad" ads work, including all that jump-in-your-face noisy pop-over bollocks, and the insidious mouse-pointer-tracking shite. Most of the "normal" ones are gone too, but they were all surreptitiously tracking your activity.

      The only ads that remain, are plain HTML images with HREFs.

      I call this kind of ad-blocking "ethical" because if a website owner honestly wants to promote someone else's product, without using some parasitic ad-network with a shedload of ulterior data-mining motives, then he still can. He or the ad-network just has to take all the crap out and it'll work fine.

      The problem is that the ad-networks pay websites more because they are making money out of slurping and mining user's data (perhaps more than they are paid by advertisers for marketing their products). THAT's what's unethical if you ask me.

      The downside is that some badly-designed most websites break until you whitelist their javascript (but not their ad-network's). But it's pretty easy to spot which scripts are legit and which are ad-networks just by the domain they are coming from. And pages load faster too.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Just block JavaScript

        "Use NoScript (firefox), ScriptNo (chrome), etc."

        Yep, that's what I do too. No ad-blockers here, just NoScript and Ghostery. On the whole, whitelisting the actual domain I'm visiting is all that is required for the site to work. Sometimes the site is using a Content Delivery Network for some aspects of their site. If I feel I'm missing something I'd like to see then I can either temporarily or permanently whitelist the CDN domain too. That pretty much takes care of everything. Oh yes, FlashBlock, so that stuff is click to play.

    15. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: First questions first

      Touche, and very true.

    16. dan1980

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      @N2 - "Sites exercise little control over who ultimately uses their advertising space . . ."

      Pretty much this.

      I do understand the way ad-slinging works and I do appreciate that it is not so straight-forward for sites to implement a more careful ad policy with greater control.

      But that understanding does not change the fundamental problem, which is that the vast majority of websites that display ads simply rent a portion of their site for a third-party (often Google) to on-sell to, largely unlimited other slingers.

      These ads are delivered via scripting languages and often contain scripting themselves. This is just plain dangerous and, whatever the 'ethics' surrounding ads and ad-blocking amounts to, the fact that allowing ads puts your computer at risk cannot be denied and should not be ignored or down-played.

      Once that is accepted, the question becomes: is it reasonable to expect people to willingly open themselves up to (potentially crippling) data loss, identity theft, phising attacks and financial scams?

      Or, put another way: is it ethical for a site owner to open visitors up to potentially malicious content that they either cannot or are not willing to control?

      If a site only serves static, image-based ads (like a newspaper or magazine) then we have no problem and blocking them is, if not unethical, then at least a little bit selfish. But while the continue to serve ads that put visitors at risk, it is simply prudent for visitors to block that risk.

      In other words, the way it is now, ad blockers are almost a part of your virus/malware protection, just as much as spam filters and AV programs, so asking users to disable ad blockers for a site is akin to asking them to turn off their anti-virus.

    17. teebie

      Re: First questions first

      "Since when has ad blocking ever been anything other than ethical?"

      A small number of people, who tend to have a vested interest, have long wished for us to believe that it is.

    18. BobChip
      Thumb Up

      Re: First questions first

      Just remember that the German courts have repeatedly concluded, on no less than five consecutive occasions, that adblocking IS legal, in part on the basis that we - the internet users - have absolutely no contractual obligation to watch or consume adverts. Full stop.

      Quote from El Reg - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/30/adblock_wins_another_court_battle. "Adblock Plus's operations and communications manager, Ben Williams, said the court found there is no contract between publishers under which users have somehow “agreed” to view all the ads a publisher serves, commenting: "To the contrary, said the court, users have the right to block those or any ads, because no such contract exists."

      I might in addition argue that the adslingers are stealing my bandwidth, or my electricity, or interfering with my PC, all without my consent, or that they are putting my security at risk with malware, but "no contractual obligation" is ethical enough for me.

      Don't let the b******s off the hook!

    19. SimonC

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      Never say never. I'll turn it off for sites that I deem worthy of trading, usually indie sites that ask politely such as comic artists and people that have written useful tools to download that have a small, useful little banner.

      It's when you can tell before you press 'unblock' that 900 swfs are gonna load and animated gifs are gonna strobe up and down the page that I close the site and never return.

    20. Bamboozled

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      Agreed. I pay to access the internet I expect not the see ads. If Netflix start displaying ads then they will get the boot, so what's the difference than?

  6. Peter Prof Fox

    Stupid question

    It's always 'ethical'. There's no 'moral' reason involved.

    I chose what I see. If content providers don't like it that's their problem.

    A better question is: When is leeching my bandwidth 'ethical'.

  7. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    When is ad-blocking ethical?

    When it's NOT hosted by the domain of web page?

    ALWAYS

    It's quite ethical to block it even if it's from the same server, though I can't see how to do that as to a program it would be potentially the same as the content you want.

    Since when was it a moral imperative to actually consume adverts (or lies).

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      "It's quite ethical to block it even if it's from the same server, though I can't see how to do that as to a program"

      The content blocker in Agnitum Outpost Firewall/Security Suite does a good job, mainly because many sites put ad's in a folder labelled 'ads' or something similar.

    2. Remy Redert

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      Blocking ads from the same server is usually simple as well. Strip all flash. That just leaves you with (mostly) static ads which are usually unobtrusive. If the host makes those an annoyance as well, time to find another place for your content.

  8. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Dear Advertisers, pucker up & KMA.

    If I access the internet via a cellular modem & cellular data plan, then I pay for everything I download. If you want me to download your ad then you need to pay me for my bandwidth to do so. You refuse to pay me, then I refuse to download you. It's that fekkin simple. Your ad costs me money, so I'll not download it out of the goodness of my heart.

    *Pointing* There's my arse. Pucker up & start snogging. Bonus points for using tongue.

  9. lleres

    Negotiations

    Your claim that 'artists' negotiate contracts with tech companies is.. curious.

    Is it artists or the music industry that enters negotiations?

    Is it artists, the tech companies or the music industry that decides how much of the negotiated amount goes to artists?

  10. moiety

    To flip the question; how is stealing my bandwidth; time and data ethical? To then accuse me of a crime if I choose not to accept that is rank hypocrisy. Plus blocking ads is the sensible thing to do...not blocking them gives you a significantly greater chance of catching a dose of something unpleasant.

    Bands are fighting a war on 3 fronts; search engines; advertising and rights agencies. But there's iTunes etc; and there's nothing stopping bands from selling their own tunes on their own sites...it's not expensive or particularly hard to do.

  11. Magani
    Happy

    When it comes to browsing the web...

    ... I have two friends:

    AdBlock+ and NoScript.

  12. ScottME

    Any musician who feels entitled to earn a living from YouTube needs to re-examine their business model. YouTube is advertising for the artists whose material it hosts -- the commercial ads are there to earn the revenue to pay for that service. Cut off your nose to spite your face if you like, and see what happens to your viewer numbers.

  13. OchaiThenoo

    Easy Decision

    100% ethical while the risk of being served malware exists.

  14. BurnT'offering

    I love Youtube's ads

    Many's the time I've thought, I'm really in the mood to hear Johanna Martzy play the Bach Chaconne from Partita no. 2 - but ONLYif it's preceded by a short informative movie about British Gas repairing central heating boilers.

  15. Anne Other

    When is ad-blocking ethical?

    It's a ridiculous question to ask. Nobody owes you a living.

    After that, the rest is really irrelevant but is equally "nobody owes you a living".

  16. usbac

    I have no ethical problem with ad-blocking

    Our security subscription allows us to ad-block at our corporate firewall. I just had to enable the category "Advertisements".

    It's funny, we have had a content filter available on our firewall for years, but never enabled it. Management has always been fairly liberal with filtering/tracking here at the company. They have always had the opinion that if they thought they had to nanny employees that much, they shouldn't be working here. In fact, they did terminate an employee a while back for abusing (and I mean really abusing) Farcebook.

    It was finally the annoying ads that made us enable the content filter. So far, the only content we block is ads! It took a while for me to get the okay. There were some discussion about the ethics of ad-blocking, since we are a business that needs advertising. But, the recent stories of malware spreading via the ad networks finally sold it. It's the lack of policing their content that led to the blocking of ads at our company.

    Everyone that works here is finally seeing how the web really should be!! People are coming to me to see how to get an ad blocker for their home PC.

  17. jason 7 Silver badge

    Ethics don't don't come into it.

    If you have good content I'll pay to see it. Don't need frustrating irrelevant ads getting in the way.

    And yes targeted ads are a fantasy. They don't exist. I'm a huge Amazon shopper and they cant even get "Due to your shopping habits you might be interest in..." lists right so what chance so who are the ad networks trying to kid?

    The only web folks that are worried about this are the ones that just steal and link to other superior content. They can die off today for all I care. Either provide it for free or if you want to get paid for it, make people pay for it. You might be surprised.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    View from inside

    I'm an ad-blocker, who owes a living to the ad industry. So I'm a massive hypocrite and many of you will despise me immediately.

    First thing to understand, the advertising industry is largely about burying one's head in the sand about the effectiveness of the ads that are run. So, everyone knows that TV ads are muted/ignored/skipped etc but it's very difficult to measure by how much and what impact that has. So, mountains of money is 'wasted' on advertising on TV, and has been for years.No-one really questions it. It's a big industry relying on it to keep going. On the flipside, it is very hard to argue with advertisers who find their phones ringing off the hook the days after their TV ads are broadcast. You and I may happily ignore ads, but a lot of people don't. Remember, the vast population of this once great country are not Reg readers, they watch Simon Cowell drivel and read the Sun. This is an elitist statement, but it is true.

    Back on topic: online ads have always been measurable. You deliver an ad, the view is counted, the click is counted, you visit the advertisers website sometime later, that is all joined up and hey presto - online ads work. So when a technology comes along that blocks those ads - it can be counted and measured. It's fundamentally not the same as people flipping the page in the newspaper. There is a spreadsheet telling you 30% of your ads weren't seen. Even the herd mentality ad industry can't ignore that. So whilst to the punter ad-blocking is no different to traditional TV ad-skipping, to the ad world it isn't.

    But is it ethical? Stupid question. An ad-funded site is able to pay journalists to write stories largely thanks to the revenue generated by the advertising on that site. That site could quite easily block access to those running ad-blockers and put up a 'Donate to us and we'll give you access without ads' message. As long as that user is then given an ad-free experience then everyone's happy, right? It is a straightforward transaction.

    Sounds good in theory but even the biggest publishers struggle to maintain enough paywall income to sustain their operation. The Internet is too big and the same info (euphemistically known as 'content') is normally available from somewhere else for nothing. The economics of scarcity do not apply. As a result, and this is inevitable, gradually more and more publishers will go out of business as ad-blockers faced with a 'Pay Now' message simply bugger off somewhere else. Publishers can't run at a loss and are not (often) charities. The Guardian is one of the biggest global news sites, yet is still cutting it's workforce year on year, and it IS a charity, near enough!

    We can all smugly sit here (me included) blocking ads and making superior comments about pop-ups and flashing ads taking over the screen, ads for things 'I'll never buy anyway' being constantly shown etc etc.But unless there is some sort of truce, we will in some way have contributed to the downfall of the 'free' and 'open' web.

    Phew.

  19. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    well ok, so this is in the context of music streaming services

    ... but still, I wholeheartedly support the idea. I pay Deezer a monthly fee, so I can listen to whatever I want, from vast catalogue (was Spotify, until I decided I no longer like them). I also check YouTube for songs I want to learn playing, but I feel uneasy not knowing if artist is happy to have his songs there. I think mostly they do, the kind of songs I'm looking for wouldn't be in streaming catalogue anyway, since they are rarely, if ever professionally recorded. Anyway I would be happier, and I hope artists would be too, if this piratical gambit under the name of "add-supported streaming" died. Either streaming is free (e.g. promotion) or is included in some catalogue I subscribed to.

  20. Dave 150

    Ads don't normally bother me, I use ad block plus because some sites ads are always causing Firefox to hang or crash, Firefox hasn't crashed since I started using it :D

  21. bozoid

    As long as the bandwidth required isn't too onerous, and the ads don't flash or animate, I don't mind when sites request that I turn off ad-blocking -- I'm getting content for free, so the least I can do is download ads and ignore them.

    But nowadays sites like Wired and Forbes hide their content if you're blocking *trackers*. That's a whole 'nother animal. I'll read your ads, but I'm damned if I'm going to let you and your affiliates track me all over the Web.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ethics don't don't come into it.

      And yes targeted ads are a fantasy. They don't exist. I'm a huge Amazon shopper and they cant even get "Due to your shopping habits you might be interest in..." lists right

      They once showed me (on any page carrying Amazon adverts) and advert for a book I wrote. The listing was added under the same ID/user as they were picking shit out for, it's not like a simple check in code couldn't have prevented them listing something it's certain I'm not going to pay for

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      > YouTube is advertising for the artists whose material it hosts

      Yeah, there are more than a few bands in my collection now who I stumbled across on Youtube, listened to for a bit and then went and bought their album. Some of those were direct sales as well, as they were small bands I'd likely never have heard of if I hadn't come across them on Youtube (At least one of the bands didn't even have an english language website).

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: View from inside @AC

      Thing is (and I agree with a lot of what you say), there's plenty of people who say they will put up with Ads as long as the industry starts making sure they are secure, stops delving into private lives as far as they can through cookies etc. Seems to me it's mainly the Ad industry wanting it all their own way since they never seem to make any of these moves towards a truce.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: View from inside

      Calling most brits x-factor watching, dailymail reading vegetables is hardly elitist.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: View from inside

      Ok, so the solution is to fake the ad impression. My home broadband is near enough unlimited, so I could have a plug-in which uses the idle bandwidth to fake the impression.

      I'm happy. Ad company is happy. Everyone's happy.

      (And sales aren't affected because I truly wasn't going to buy anything. I'm too aggressively anti-consumerist to buy things I don't literally need).

    6. DryBones
      Pint

      Re: View from inside

      It's pretty simple, though I suppose perhaps not easy.

      * Ads are like a group of 600 lb people these days, a megabyte or more each.

      * There is little vetting done on ads, and the advent of flash bidding makes them the equivalent of sharing about needles with people known to have STDs.

      * Ads go out of their way to be obnoxious.

      Sharply cut the size of ads, taser any and all ad designers that feel compelled to use video, popouts, expanding overlays, and other such whoop-de-doo's. Vet your ads for safety and suitability and STAND BY THAT VETTING. In short, the ad industry needs a long scrub, a shave, and to have all its shots up to date before I let it into my house. Because right now it's a rude and unwashed schizophrenic.

      My phone keyboard put out "accordionist" when I gesture-typed schizophrenic, which is much funnier but not on point.

    7. Bullseyed

      Re: Ethics don't don't come into it.

      "The only web folks that are worried about this are the ones that just steal and link to other superior content."

      That's all of them, though. For example, the vast majority of news on the internet is written by the AP. Lots of 'news' places just buy those stories and repost them. Sometimes they add a few words here or there, like the book reports they somehow got a college degree in.

    8. Bullseyed

      Re: View from inside

      "Donate to us and we'll give you access without ads"

      I refuse to contribute to those who lack knowledge regarding the definition of the word donate.

      And surely if ads work, then those people like seeing ads. By definition those people would never use an ad blocker, as they like clicking the ads and buying stuff. Ad blockers actual help the content providers by making sure they aren't charged for ad views by people who would never buy the product being advertised.

      1. Santonia

        Re: View from inside

        Well I stand corrected on the meaning of the word 'donate', although many may think that websites are done for charitable reasons given the lack of profit involved!

        This is a good philosophical theory, but in the real world, this is what happens: Advertiser realises ads don't reach people. Advertiser stops bothering buying ads on those sites/media. Sites that rely on ads for income doesn't get income. Site closes.

        Also, odd statistical fact: it is estimated that only around 5% of people ever click on ads.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Advertisers, pucker up & KMA.

      OK, so by that logic, why should you NOT pay for the content of the site you visit? Have your way, enjoy an ad free experience, but how, exactly, do you propose that the people who provide that content afford to do it?

      I'm not advocating it (online ads), I hate it, but you do realise that you are getting all of this site content for free. You blocking an ad costs the site money, they can only sell an ad when it is served. You're looking down the wrong end of the telescope.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Dear Advertisers, pucker up & KMA.

        "I'm not advocating it (online ads), I hate it, but you do realise that you are getting all of this site content for free. You blocking an ad costs the site money, they can only sell an ad when it is served. You're looking down the wrong end of the telescope."

        It depends on the site. It's not a one size fits all dilemma. Many site themselves are an "advert" for the company.

    10. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Dear Advertisers, pucker up & KMA.

      Dear Shadow Systems - I've spent money creating this news site/movie/album. If you want to read it/watch it/listen to it then you need to pay me. If you refuse to pay via the channels provided (subscription or advertising) then I'll refuse to serve you. It's that fekkin simple. This is my work and it puts food on my table. I'll not deliver it to freeloaders out of the goodness of my heart.

      *Pointing* There's my firewall. Pucker up and start paying.

    11. el_oscuro

      Re: View from inside

      Wired.com does that now. If you go there with an ad blocker, you get:

      "Here’s The Thing With Ad Blockers

      We get it: Ads aren’t what you’re here for. But ads help us keep the lights on.

      So, add us to your ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 per week for an ad-free version of WIRED. Either way, you are supporting our journalism. We’d really appreciate it."

      All of this is true, but neither option is any good. 1$ a week is pretty expensive to go to a site a rarely look at. Plus it is yet another login with my credit card info in yet another hacked database, so no thanks.

      Putting them on the white list won't work either since all of their ads are hosted by 3rd parties. If someone delivers some ransomware through a malvertisment and I lose all of my data, who is to blame?

      So until sites start actually hosting their own advertisements, I'll continue to block them, and sites like wired.com will cease to exist for me.

      1. David 138

        Re: View from inside

        You could enable the adverts and stop clicking on the penis enlargement ads :P

        But seriously why is everyone complaining about Adverts on a site which appears to be supported by adverts?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: View from inside

        There are billions of ads served every day globally. Given the widespread belief expressed here of the quantity of malicious ads running scripts and taking over your life then there would surely be countless stories of thousands if not millions of people being hit by 'malvertising' and 'losing all of their data'. I must have missed them.

        Of course, if you are a complete tin-hat wearing lunatic you would probably believe that there was a global conspiracy to keep it out of the media.

        Or, on the other hand, maybe this non-existent/infinitely low risk possibility is used as an excuse by people who just can't express the prosaic truth that 'ads are annoying, blocking them is easy, so I do it'.

    12. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: View from inside

      Truce, sure thing.

      When the Advertising Industry indemnifies me for loss due to malvertising is when I switch off ad-blocking.

      It will never happen.

    13. Jan Hargreaves

      Re: View from inside

      I've said to the Grauniad many times that I would happily pay a monthly subscription, or "donate" an annual supporting/ membership fee for being able to use the site without ads. You would think it's not a difficult thing but they claim to have looked at implimenting it and decided that it would cost too much and would not make enough revenue to be worth doing it anyway (Maybe they asked the guys that did healthcare.gov for a quote!!). Meanwhile they keep pushing their membership scheme that involves events, debates etc but not the digital paper ad free which just seems odd in the extreme. If this user is logged in, don't serve ads. How hard can it be? And being able to attend debates is not exactly enticing to someone that is tens of thousands of miles away, and they readership is huge overseas. Since their new design mind... I have taken time off from visiting the site. Most of the content, on the whole, is decent, but the presentation is truly horrific.

      Is ad blocking ethicial? If it's true that advertisers get paid only for clicks then I can't be alone in ignoring any ads I see and I honestly cannot remember the last time I clicked on an ad online. Like maybe a decade ago?

      I'm just not interested in advertising at all, whether it be on the web, tv, cinema, magazines, newspapers, billboards. None of it encourages me to purchase anything, so I just don't watch ads. Period. I realise that I am in a minority with this opinion, but exactly what would advertisers gain by trying to force me to watch their ads? I'm just not interested.

      An interesting idea for the ad men would be to offer people free internet but ridled with ads. I imagine a lot of people would put up with the ads because their internet was free, just so that they don't have to pay. It would not effect me as I'm quite happy to pay a premium for my internet and control exactly what I consume through my pipe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: View from inside

        This I absolutely agree with, despite the fact that it would be an exception to the rule. For instance, if you subscribe to the Guardian Newspaper (and get it delivered) you still get the ads! If you subscribe to a magazine, you still get the ads. However, the digital world is different - and it would be very easy to block ads for logged in subscribers to a site. Trivially easy.

        Slight correction: there doesn't need to be a click for an advertiser to pay the site. The site gets paid every time an ad is served (shown).So, if you block the ad, the site loses that income.

    14. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC Re: View from inside

      "But unless there is some sort of truce, we will in some way have contributed to the downfall of the 'free' and 'open' web."

      It's a consequence I'm happy to live with. And I expect to get plenty of downvotes from journalists who see no other source of income for saying so. There are plenty of good amateurs, and those seeking more professional reputation, providing content which interests their agenda enough for them to provide it for free. I'd suggest, that as with music, access to the highest quality of writing, analysis and comment will always be something enough people are willing to pay for. As one of the regular readers of lwn.net more than 10 years ago, we (the readers) helped the journalists there stay in business by encouraging them to accept subscriptions when they told us they were having to close shop due to lack of ad revenue. They are still writing regular and useful content now and I've maintained the subscription. Their content was worth paying for to us, because their articles saved us time discovering what we were deeply interested in.

      The music business also probably isn't supported now so much by recording contracts and streaming as it is through ticket sales to live performances and associated merchandise. So music had to return to a more participatory and community event for this to work - turning the clock back to when artists donated time to early recording experiments without knowing about royalties, because their income was always seen as coming through live performance. I think there exist plenty of opportunities for traveling writers with established names and reputations to engage with support communities of interest who will lead a return to a kind of polite public discourse and politics based on public meetings, lectures and workshops involving those of like interest, with door fees to give access to the knowledge and wisdom on offer, plus regular subscriptions by core supporters who get a coffee table book or a T shirt sent to them every year. It's not that far removed from how I make a living as an academic.

    15. HughJanus

      Re: When is ad-blocking ethical?

      This is the best answer, it's a stupid question.

      It also assumes that ad blocking is unethical by default. They've changed the baseline.

  22. msknight Silver badge

    I'm ad-blocking, but if I hear some music I'm actively putting in the effort to find a way of purchasing directly form the artist... and that goes for all things including books, films, whatever way I can get. Sure, it isn't convenient for me, and I've even spent more buying books via Hive than Amazon.

    The problem is that for every band that is big enough to have a voice, that won't miss the few percent, there's loads of smaller bands for whom that few percent is not only everything they have coming in... but it also represents their dreams of one day making it big.

    I get more of a cut if people buy my books directly from my publisher, and I highlight these links on my author page... but still people will go buy via Amazon, or iBooks, or some middle agent, because that's how the big guys have stacked the deck... they not only provide the content, but also the equipment on which to read it... and favour their own systems.

    There are plenty of places in the chain where the links are broken. Some of it is down to our own preference for convenience. Some of it is how we let the big guys manipulate the market so they have closed systems. Some of it is down to the contracts, like the music companies signing up good bands to contracts and never actually do anything with the band, but the contract stops them from taking another contract with anyone else, and the companies won't release the bands from the contract they've signed. Effectively dooming the band to obscurity.

    I'm just screwing the middle man and trying to get my money to the artist in the most efficient way possible. If that takes ad blocking, and more research on my part, then so be it. There are times when I have no option other than to buy from the middle men that I hate so much... but I won't call myself a hypocrite and return to my old ways... this is an ongoing war.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      So ethically it's ok to steal from rich people?

      msknight - "big enough to have a voice, that won't miss the few percent,"

      That makes things a bit clearer for me - all I have to do is decide for myself that you are "big enough" and I can steal from you with a clear conscience. I'll nip over to the big house later tonight and help myself to their silver - they won't miss a bit of it. Ethics is easy.

  23. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Meh

    What is advertising?

    A few years ago, I decided to check out this Pandora thing, since I'd basically stopped listening to the radio and wanted to explore some new music. I was quickly hooked; I found that I liked the idea of being able to plug in an artist or genre and get related music. I also started to buy new music again, which I hadn't done much of in recent years. As artists I liked popped up on my stations, I would buy their tracks or albums. In that way, Pandora itself acts as an advertisement for the artists who are played on it, and Pandora makes it much easier than, say, the radio to go from hearing a song to purchasing it (or the whole album). It may well be that Pandora pays a pittance to the artists for the actual music stream, but I would be curious to know to what extent it drives revenue through sales.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When are ads ethical?

    When they're heavily regulated, and don't try to scam you, use pseudo-science / lie in any way, or sell you junk food that will damage your health.

    So basically never.

  25. David David David David (formerly David 22)

    NoScript + Adblock Plus

    I use NoScript and Adblock Plus. and they are both turned on for all sites with a few exceptions for Noscript. (oracle.com and other sites I use for work)

    Every now and then I disable Adblock on a few sites that might deserve it and I recently expermiented with theregister.co.uk and regmedia.co.uk and found, to my surprise, that the only change was the addition of the banner for some continuous live beer drinking or something in London. No other ads at all.

    Noscript, however, shows that you want me to allow scripts from google-analytics, googletagservices, dpmsrv and admedo.

    I suppose that the ads come from these pages, but there is no way I am allowing random 3rd party sites to run scripts in my browser if I can help it.

    I can live with the banner at the top so I haven't reenabled adblocker for the reg again.

    Dave

  26. defiler Silver badge

    Ads and speed testing

    Coincidentally I was speed-testing an ADSL line for a client earlier today. It got an extra 1Mb/sec when I installed AdBlock Plus...

    Is it ethical to shove adverts into your speed tester *while the test is being run*?

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Ads and speed testing

      Only if you were testing for VW.

  27. Scott Broukell

    See all of the above

    - there's the answer to your question.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    So what do I think?

    Since you ask: every browsing device my family owns runs some sort of ad-blocker. That will continue - this article hasn't swayed me. And along with every other commentard here, I simply don't understand how the word 'ethical' can share a sentence with 'ad'.

    El Reg, why don't you ask an individual in advertising to write you an article where they justify just why we should tolerate their ads in our lives. It would be helpful if they agreed to also publish their levels of income and debt, so we can determine whether they are driven by the flame of pure righteous belief or whether they are driven by grubby concerns of the wallet.

    We will of course provide ethical, constructive feedback for free via the comments section. Even though this possibly makes us 'the product'.

  29. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Big Tech ?

    Big Tech is the wrong name.

    Entities like YouTube are merely publishers, and they've always been the middlemen that ripped off artists. That they're using the tech resources of their parents (google) doesn't make them tech companies themselves.

    1. nijam

      Re: Big Tech ?

      > ... publishers, and they've always been the middlemen that ripped off artists ...

      Shame I can't upvote this few more times.

  30. Bullseyed

    All adblocking is ethical. Unethical behavior includes auto-play videos that somehow never need to buffer and play at higher quality than the actual video. Given that most people access their internet content on smartphones with limited data plans, pushing content that is not requested by the user (ie ads) is actually theft of bandwidth and data quota.

    If I take a site like this one and in addition to entering text into fields and hitting the submit button, inject code to affect the database, I have committed a felony via unauthorized computer access. However, if I click a link to this website and it injects code to insert data into my client, they have done nothing wrong?

  31. Adrian 4 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Reductio ad absurdam

    If it's unethical to block ads, is it also unethical to fail to respond to them ? Presumably clickthrough gets the publisher more revenue than simply viewing. Maybe referral gets them more still.

    If anything from failing to purchase the object, to failing to clickthrough, to failing to move your eyes to that point on the screen, to blocking the ad completely denies the publisher revenue, then are those all unethical too ?

    If not, where do you draw the line ?

    1. Palpy

      Re: @ Adrian, Drawing the line...

      Hmmm, yasss...

      So if I enjoy content on El Reg, say, I might choose to click on one of their ads just to support them. But of course I have no intention of buying anything and would close the browser tab ASAP.

      Perfectly legal.

      If I were to go through my favorite sites, perhaps once a week, and click on ads on each site, would the coppers come and drag me off? Is simply clicking an ad you're really not interested in an actionable act of fraud?

      And if I automate the task? After all, the results would be exactly the same. But no! In Ad-Land they call it click-fraud.

      Advertising and ethics are strange bedfellows. Kind of like the serpent and Eve, if you appreciate a Christian simile. Or if you don't, like a zombie and your brains.

  32. Richard 51

    Its my choice not googles

    If companies want to rely on advertising then they cannot be intrusive, which is the case on many websites. You see the content loading slowly, usually because of the heavy advertising content. So that's what encourages most people to start ad blocking.

    For me I buy a subscription to Spotify and other sites I am truly interested in. But even these stick ads in my face, which is even more reason to block.

  33. ecofeco Silver badge

    Ethical ad blocking?

    What fucking bollocks is that? It's MY fucking screen!

  34. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Who is unethical?

    Since the ad is using my bandwidth and using my kit to be seen it is a guest on my kit. If the ad industry acted like they are guests on users' kit they might not have a the problem they are facing. I suspect most posters on El-Reg use ad-blockers but are not vehemently anti-advertising. What many object to is ramming Flash and script ads that often contain malware down our throats. Hence, the nuclear option of total ad-blocking. The lack of ethics is with the ad industry, clean up your act first, then we will consider removing ad-blockers, etc.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The case for ethical ad blocking

    Now the real question is whether Andrew here means ethical-ad blocking, or ethical ad-blocking.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: The case for ethical ad blocking

      Only one of those things exists. "Ethical ad" is, to many people, an oxymoron.

  36. PassiveSmoking

    I block all ads because they're demonstrably dangerous. Ad serving businesses have notoriously lax security and you can find perfectly innocent pages serving up malware through their ads as a result. Even when not explicitly designed to harm you, ads are overly intrusive and attempt to track you against your wishes. They're also obnoxious, especially video ads that auto play with the audio turned up.

    I'll consider ditching ad blockers when the advertising industry get their act together. Until then, I'll just block everything (and stop using sites that insist I turn the ad blocker off)

    1. Santonia

      'Demonstrably dangerous'. Please demonstrate, preferably with, I dunno, some evidence?

  37. Sealand
    Mushroom

    Use the hosts file as an ad blocker

    Block the worst domains with your hosts file. Have done for a long time, and it works like a charm. Ad-blocker sniffers never see it coming.

    http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

    1. TheTor

      Re: Use the hosts file as an ad blocker

      Depends how its done.

      Nothing stopping the site using an inline script to obfuscate the page, then serve some code via an ad call to decrypt it. Block the ads, you block the code that lets you see the content. Works with all forms of ad blocking too, even at a firewall level, not just ABP/Ghostery etc (and with ABP you can pay to have your adverts whitelisted!).

      Also, what's to stop them using reverse proxy rules that make the scripts appear if they are coming from the same domain as the site itself?

      There are companies working on ways to serve ads, even with ad blockers enabled, right now.

      And this is the way things are going. Ad agencies aren't going to give in easily. Subscriptions will never match advertising revenue.

      As much as I hate them too, they aren't going anywhere for some time.

    2. ParasiteParty

      Re: Use the hosts file as an ad blocker

      I use 'HostsMan'. If you do too please make a donation:

      http://www.abelhadigital.com/hostsman

  38. PAT MCCLUNG

    ad-blocking ethics

    Indeed it is ethical for me to block unsolicited advertisements from appearing on the web pages I visit.

    I do not wish to see them. Moreover, I have made a promise to myself NEVER to buy a product or service that I see in an unsolicited web advertisement.

    Therefore,

    1. ad-blocking is beneficial to me, because I do not wish to see them.

    2. ad-blocking is beneficial to advertisers, since it is possible for me to buy their product or service only if I do not see their advertisement.

    Everybody benefits.

    1. Grunchy
      Alert

      Re: ad-blocking ethics

      People lose sight of how the internet actually works.

      I turn on my computer and it accesses my ISP and requests a web page (which is essentially a data file download) from somebody else's computer. This transaction occurs for free, or more accurately, is paid for at my end within a monthly data access limit that I have negotiated with my ISP; and at the provider's end within the data upload limit they have negotiated with their ISP.

      So somebody else prepares data to be consumed, and I nonchalantly walk along and instruct my computer to consume a copy of that data.

      Now, when my computer receives the data from somebody else's computer, that data belongs to me. I have downloaded it and paid for access to it with my ISP. No matter what anybody may think, once the copy is in my computer's memory, I can do with it pretty much whatever I please.

      If I choose to run a program that automatically strips out some of that data that I have already chosen I don't want to see, before it is rendered onto my web browser's screen, that's strictly my business. There is nothing ethical or non-ethical about it whatsoever.

      If enough people cleanse their data of un-solicited ads that it causes the web page provider to go out of business, that's an awful shame, but that's the way the business world works. That's what you get for running a business where you spend money & resources to put together information for public consumption but then have no mechanism to charge cash directly for access to that information (probably because nobody, or a very tiny proportion of people, would ever agree to such a payment scheme anyway). Your business provides the information for free, and you throw in ads from other companies that pay for that access, but then the ads are filtered out before they are ever viewed. That sucks, but that's the way the cookie has crumbled baby.

  39. flopwich

    It's not the ads, it's the tracking

    Barring the ads that pop up in your face and block what you're trying to read, or the ones with flashing lights and noises, I don't really care about the ads all that much. I can ignore them. I don't understand why there's all this hoo-rah about ads all over the tech world, but no complaining about all the tracking that goes on. Sites everywhere scrape all kinds of information from you and about you and report that to every other site. This very page scrapes information and gives it to Digital Media, Google Analytics, and Google Ad Services, for example. Some pages have as many as 25 different web bugs and a myriad of other trackers on each page. At the same time many pages use scripts of one kind or another that pass information to yet more web sites. Why do folks complain not at all about all that, yet there's such a huge outcry about mere ads? I don't get it.

  40. still me

    It's more unethical for the advertisers to use MY bandwidth (that i've paid hard earned cash for), to clutter up my screen with crap i DON'T WANT, without my permission.

  41. Grunchy

    Literally, who cares?

    The internet is free to use or to ignore. As well, it is free to ban people from certain content.

    I cannot look at anything on Facebook without an account, and guess what I don't have that account, and I don't even care!

    There are sites that try to scold me for using ad-blocker, but all they do is block me from looking at their site, so I don't look at their site!

    It's my computer screen and I can put whatever internet site on it, however I choose, and the owner of those sites can block me for whatever reason they deem fit, and it just doesn't make any difference.

    I'll just look at something else, and they can go exclude others from whatever it is they put up on the net. Who cares, not me. Nobody should care. It's none of your business anyway!

  42. John Doe 6

    Always...

    Ads use MY CPU cycles, MY electricity, MY bandwidth to show me useless information on things I do not need or want and the ad networks are spying on me too, harvesting information and tracing my whereabouts.

    There is NOTHING unethical in blocking ads, it is actually a right we have - it is the right to use OUR computers as WE like.

    If the ads were simple text with small pictures (like an ad in a newspaper) people wouldn't block them but animated ads is like putting a running film into a newspaper. You can save 50% CPU just by blocking some ad servers... and with only ONE web page open, that is actually what I would call UNETHICAL - oh and think what all those useless ads do for the environment, we waste a lot of power on them.

  43. ParasiteParty

    Are you serious?

    "When is ad-blocking ethical?"

    Er, that's easy. 100% of the time. I will decide - as far as is practical, when I do not wish to see an advert. If I can skip adverts on the PVR, then I will. Same principle for adverts on the web. If I am driving along and am advertised to on a billboard then there is not much I can do about that, but that's life.

    To all marketing types out there: Suck it up and go get a proper job. Stop promoting consumerism, it is a fundamentally flawed proposition.

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