Mobile operator Three had hoped to roll out a network-wide ad blocking system that would prevent the appearance of up to 95 percent of adverts has been shot down by a European regulator.
Citing net neutrality, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (Berec) says that Three’s plans were incompatible with providing an internet access service. The decision comes despite the fact that Three’s ad blocker would have been optional for customers.
Berec said that telecom companies “should not block, slow down, alter, restrict, interfere with, degrade or discriminate advertising when providing an IAS (internet access service)”. This does not, of course, prevent individuals from installing ad blockers of their own, it just means that companies providing internet access should not be permitted to block ads server-side.
Three has already experimented with blocking banner ads and pop-ups, but says that it does not want to completely wipe out advertising:
Our objective… is not to eliminate mobile advertising, which is often interesting and beneficial to our customers, but to give customers more control, choice and greater transparency over what they receive.
Customers should not have to pay data charges because of advertising, mobile ads should not access handset data without explicit consent, and phone owners should only see advertising that is relevant and interesting to them rather than obtrusive and untargeted information.