Technology that allows users to change or block ad content presented on websites they visit, continues to raise new legal questions as well as various industry-compliance discussions.
The upcoming iPhone and iPad version, iOS 9 (coming this fall), will offer a new Safari extension that will block all ads presented by the browser. As mentioned in the Apple's developer website, the new Safari extension will offer the user "a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content." It appears, for now, that the extension will not be implemented in the Safari browser by default. Instead, the user will need to download the extension from Apple's App Store.
Apple's new attitude towards an ads-free user experience does not stand alone: while the issue raises concerns by Internet publishers that will be affected by the additional technological option of users to clock ads presented on their websites, and as reported in our last Newsletter, very recently two Court rulings have dismissed lawsuits against an ad blocking browser add-on, in which it was decided that there is nothing legally inadmissible or unacceptable with products that block unwanted advertising content, provided they are used with the user's informed decision.
Moreover, after publishing its recent research regarding ad injections, Google has recently begun to curtail ad injections and deceptive ads. In this regard, Google has also decided to remove any product from its mobile store (Google Play) that mark deceptive ads as unwanted software and offer its users a removal tool for removing ads. Indeed, Google has long been known for its attempts to block third parties’ products that offer similar ad blocking solutions, claiming they interfere with the operations of third parties. However, key players in the media and in the advertising ecosystem, tend to attribute Google’s actions to its intention to become the exclusive distributor of this kind of solutions, and in this regard, a complaint alleging this was recently filed to the EU antitrust regulators against Google (read more under the Notable Legal and Regulatory Actions section below).