Adblockers are, have been, and will continue to be a matter of some controversy. While sites rely on ad income to stay afloat, users are understandably irked by a barrage of flashy commercials and are increasingly turning to adblocking. To fight back, some sites are using various methods to detect the presence of an adblocker and then bypassing it.
This, in turn, upsets people once again, and the CEO of privacy and security consortium Think Privacy, Alexander Hanff, has come up with a solution. To fight back he has set up a website that names and shames those sites that “use illegal methods to detect that you are using an adblocker”.
In launching the Campaign Against The Illegal Detection/Circumvention Of Adblocking Tools, Hanff aims not only to shame the sites that engage in the practice, but also to raise awareness of the issue. He wants to encourage people to submit details of their experiences with sites with a view to, ultimately, taking legal action where appropriate. He says:
In a recent written opinion by the European Commission, they confirmed that the detection of adblocking tools by accessing information on a person’s device without first obtaining consent to do so, is illegal under Article 5(3) of the ePrivacy Directive.
The purpose of this web site is to name and shame publishers who are using these illegal methods to detect your use of an adblocker. If you visit a web site and see a message asking you to turn off your adblocker, there is a high chance that web site is breaking the law. So please complete the form above and submit it to our database so we can investigate the site and if necessary take the appropriate legal action against them.
While there is a European bent to the site, it raises the same privacy concerns on a global scale. Hanff warns:
Advertising also uses up to 40% of all the internet traffic being delivered to your device or computer, if you are on an internet package which comes with limited data, this is costing you money and a lot of it.
Web site also load much slower as a result of the excessive use of third party advertising, which damages the experience for digital society.
If you are not already using an adblocker in your web browser – you should be, because if you don’t you are at risk of privacy violations, fraud and identity theft. Rogue advertising has recently been used to encrypt the entire contents of peoples’ hard drives demanding the payment of ransoms before that data can be recovered. So as you can see the risks are incredibly high.
Take a look at the Think Privacy site for more details. If the list of reported sites looks a little sparse at the moment, it’s because Hanff has to manually verify everything that’s submitted:
ok web site is up but I have to manually verify every reported site (legal reasons) & have to go out for a couple of hours … more
— Alexander Hanff (@alexanderhanff) May 2, 2016
So, if you’ve come across a site that detects your adblocker, get it reported.