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Free Broadband ISP

French ISP Free updates with ad blocking software


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

January 5, 2013 | 2 min read

Various advertising networks, including Google’s AdSense and Analytics as well as advertising on YouTube have been hit with disruptions following internet service provider, Free, automatically updating DSL modems for its 4.8 million customers with ad blocking software.

Free is France’s second largest ISP and its decision to employ the software has caused problems for online publishers who make money from advertising on their sites.

Andrew Ferguson, editor of Think Broadband, spoke to the Telegraph on Free’s move: "The annoying pop-up, under and floating adverts is something many people loathe, but these often reflect a marketing industry trying to experiment and learn what the public will tolerate and ensure that paying customers get the exposure they paid for."

"This move by Free, if it continues, and was not bug in the firmware update (it is possible the upgrade was meant to give end-users a choice to block, rather than block by default) will remove a large revenue stream for websites in France. If it continues for more than a few weeks, smaller sites with only an online presence may close."

In response to the opposition from publishers, Fleur Pellerin, French Junior Minister for SMEs, Innovation, and the Digital Economy, called for a talk with Free to resolve the issue.

Users of the service, however, can turn off the ad blocking software by manually disabling the modem's software.

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