Several European mobile carriers could be on the verge of embarking on a very questionable adventure: blocking all kinds of advertising on their networks, according to the Financial Times.
A report alleges that an unnamed European mobile carrier has already installed ad-blocking software provided by Israeli startup Shine, though the company is allegedly working with other European carriers, one of which has 40 million subscribers, to install the software on networks. This software can let carriers filter ads provided by Google and other companies in web pages and applications. Because of the nature of this ad-blocking software, this would allow carriers to free up bandwidth for their subscribers.
This unnamed carrier plans to make its advertising-free service opt-in for its subscribers, with Shine chief marketing officer Roi Carthy saying such software could have everlasting ripples in the online advertising industry.
“Tens of millions of mobile subscribers around the world will be opting in to ad blocking by the end of the year,” Carthy told the Financial Times. “If this scales, it could have a devastating impact on the online advertising industry.”
The outlet’s report alleges that the unnamed European carrier is specifically targeting Google with its ad-blocking service, though as the Financial Times points out, this conflicts with the core principles of net neutrality. For one, under net neutrality, mobile operators would need to treat all data flowing through their networks equally, and this ad-blocking service, since it selectively filters ads, could be a violation of those laws. Of course, carriers can theoretically bypass this issue by making it a paid service or an opt-in service, though that might not be enough to avoid scrutiny.
Regardless, this would be a huge blow for Google, which is already facing scrutiny in Europe over its alleged anticompetitive practices. In an attempt to improve its image on the continent, Google has established a $163 million fund to support online journalism efforts.