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Internet

Free's ad blocking went against the public interest - Kroes

Thursday 17 January 2013 | 16:16 CET | News
European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes writes in a Liberation column that French operator Free’s decision to temporarily block internet ads for Freebox customers went against the public interest. Kroes starts from the basic principle that consumers must be free to make informed, real choices when subscribing to a service or using the internet. Free’s unilateral move to block ads by default removed consumer choice and therefore was not in the public interest. It was a blanket move affecting all ads. The public perception was that it was difficult to opt out. Kroes writes that while some consumer would like to be able to block some ads or use ‘do not track’ technology, the consequence may be the removal of a hitherto free service.  

Companies now allow consumers to choose whether they want to use cookies or not when visiting a website. In the same vein, many people would like to have the choice of viewing ads or not, but consumers and online companies seem to not want this choice to be left to opaque default parameters. Stricter, rather than looser, security defaults are in the public interest, as is the provision of parental control software, though not by default.
 
Finally, the commissioner states that she is currently working on an initiative aiming to guarantee EU consumer choice when buying services, with non-technical clear language used to state real speeds under normal conditions and any restrictions or prioritisation of traffic. Consumers should be offered a realistic option allowing them to switch to a ‘complete’ service with no bandwidth restrictions, she writes, adding that this should also help to stimulate innovation and investment by ISPs.

Categories: Internet
Companies: European Commission / Free / Google
Countries: Europe / France
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