YouTube advertising block: Google's defensive measure contested

Advertisements are the tool used by Google to support the publication and dissemination through YouTube of videos produced by over 60 million creators at a global level (data updated to September 2023). Who carries out the ad blocker on YouTube does not deserve to use the service, according to the Mountain View company. Also because those who are allergic toadvertising can take out a subscription to the service YouTube Premiumwhich automatically turns off all advertising.

After stopping adblocks on YouTube, Google added a pop-up message that tries to bring users who use ad blocking mechanisms back “on the right path”. “If you block YouTube ads, you are violating the Terms of Service; If you use ad blockers, we will ask you to allow ads on YouTube or subscribe to YouTube Premium. If you continue to use ad blockers, we may block the videos you want to watch from playing“, Google writes in a support document that appeared online on October 16, 2023.

Every time YouTube is accessed from the browser, the streaming and video sharing platform checks whether the user was using a adblocker. In this case the appearance of a pop-up confirms that the use of these tools is not allowed on YouTube.

The anti-adblocker control on YouTube would not comply with European privacy legislation

Alexander Hanffa lawyer who has been dealing with for a lifetime privacy and protection of personal data, explains from the columns of The Registerto have lodged a formal complaint before the Irish Guarantor (DPC, Data Protection Commission) contesting the ways in which YouTube and therefore Google carry out checks on the possible use of an adblocker on each individual user’s client.

According to Hanff, the script used by Google would be contrary to the privacy provisions of the European Union (ePrivacy Directive) because YouTube didn’t ask for the first consent explicit to conduct a series of queries on the browser. Yes, because the JavaScript code developed by Google technicians, according to the accusatory thesis, cannot ignore one data collection which is carried out on the user’s browser, without explicit authorization.

What does the legislation provide for the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector

The lawyer refers to article 5 paragraph 3 of the ePrivacy Directive which states: “Member States shall ensure that the use of electronic communications networks to store information or to have access to information stored in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is permitted only on condition that the subscriber or user concerned has been informed clearly and completelyamong other things, on the purposes of the processing in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC and that he is offered the possibility of refuse such treatment by the data controller. This does not prevent any technical storage or access for the sole purpose of carrying out or facilitating the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network, or in measure strictly necessary to provide a service of the information society explicitly requested by the subscriber or user“.

A response received by Hanff from the European Commission would confirm that the implementation and use of scripts or other technologies to detect a ad blocker However, it requires the consent of users.

The developer of a tool ad-blockingcalled BlockAdblock, had sought to refute the claim that ad blocker detection techniques are illegal throughout the European Union. The thesis was that the JavaScript code is not stored in the way foreseen by Article 5, paragraph 3, which according to BlockAdblock it would be meant for i coookie.

Hanff has a different opinion and observes that both the legislator and the Commission are clear on the fact that any access to a user’s terminal equipment that is not strictly necessary for the provision of a requested service, requires explicit consent.


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