Blocking Adblockers is Illegal in the EU?
Publishing’s data privacy Day of Reckoning has arrived.
The IAB’s recommended technique to fight adblocking (D.E.A.L.) is illegal as declared by the European Commission. This is a hot take.
Hubris, Gluttony, Greed, Avarice, Sloth, Envy, Pride
Publishers are now forced to contend with the data privacy flaw that’s baked into blocking adblockers. I am not an expert on EU privacy law. But a basic understanding can lead you toward this analysis and conclusion. A user that has opted out of ad tracking by installing an adblocker, something the industry has refused to offer, has signaled a clear opt-out choice for privacy, where no other choice was given. By injecting code into their browser to detect for adblocking software, the publishers are disregarding their user’s assertion of privacy. This is classified as spyware and in this particular situation, user data rights (may) prevail in the EU.
Salvation and the Forgiveness of Sins
While legal in the US, publishers will need to figure out how to sell ads without tracking. Fast. It’s crazy but they don’t know how to do this. Then they’ll have another option beyond blocking adblockers, a practice that violates the laws of the European market, unless a loophole is discovered once the details and expert analysis emerge. Should the market fill this void with a supply and service for privacy-positive digital ads, then publishers can finally start to save themselves from their original faustian bargain with adtech, to sell our privacy to data brokers, disguised as ads, in exchange for content, mispriced by the proxy of “impressions” which fail to account for the scarcity of our attention.
Yes, it is crazy of me to extrapolate all of this from a tweet and we haven’t even seen the text of the legal opinion (now added below). But this is (probably) a big deal that will hasten the collapse of the adtech industrial complex if it proves out.
Post subject to updates as this story develops.