Apple approves Facebook and Apple News ad blocker on iOS 9

Apple began its spree of ad blocker approvals earlier this month with the launch of iOS 9, but has upped the ante with the recent approval of Been Choice on the App Store this week.

Been Choice offers a content blocker for Safari and a VPN service to block native ads. That latter option is new to iOS 9 and could be much more detrimental to mobile ad revenue than ad blocking services for the Web, since most content is consumed on mobile apps.

The VPN service filters out ad traffic using deep packet inspection, letting users view apps like Facebook, Apple News, Yahoo News, New York Times, and Pinterest without mobile ads. It can block pre-roll video, sponsored posts and native ads. The only apps able to circumvent Been Choice are those with end-to-end encryption, for which the system cannot distinguish ad-content from non ad-content. Twitter is the most noteable iOS app that offers end-to-end encryption.

This type of ad blocking is not new, businesses have used VPN services in the past to make sure content doesn’t leak out onto the Web. The difference is that with Been Choice, users either block the content or offer more content to advertisers and marketers in exchange for cash.

That’s right, even though Been Choice promotes the idea of choice, it is a double-edged sword: either you block the content or you feed more information to partnered marketers. The private information is monetized through PayPal credit or Amazon gift cards. It is a rather bewildering feature, considering Been Choice is pushing for more user privacy and control over adverts, yet will actively take more information from your device if you flick the switch. Been Choice only explains the additional marketer tools in the privacy policy, which is hardly ever read.

Similar to the iOS 9 paid content blockers, this seems very fishy, especially since Been Choice could effectively take personal information and send it to marketers; though it claims that doesn’t happen. It is also questionable why Apple approved this app in the first place, since it can block ads from Apple News and other apps that use iAds. This could be detrimental to publishers that invested time to build clean templates for Apple News, only to have their revenue cut off.

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