After strengthening its policy of blocking ad blockers, YouTube is facing potential major legal problems. A complaint was filed with the Irish regulator by a lawyer specializing in privacy protection.
Since mid-October, YouTube has intensified the hunt for ad blockers, to the point that for many users around the world, it has become impossible to see anything on the video platform. They are left with two alternatives: remove the blocker or take out a paid subscription.
Read YouTube blocks ad blockers and this time, it’s serious
And indeed, Article 5 of paragraph 3 of the ePrivacy Directive “Privacy and electronic communications” (2002/58/EC) requires consent for any “ access or storage of information on an end user’s device that is not strictly necessary “.
According to Hanff, the script used by YouTube therefore violates the directive since there is no request for authorization from the Internet user: the deployment of this script would not be necessary for the provision of the requested service, it only serves the interests of the platform.
The DPC has taken up the matter and will request additional information from YouTube. And in accordance with the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Irish commission could require the service to stop the practice of blocking ad blockers.
Alexander Hanff goes even further: he compares YouTube’s content blocker detection system to ” spyware »« there is no other way to describe it and therefore it is not acceptable to deploy it without consent », he says to The Verge. “ I consider deploying technology that can be used to spy on me on devices to be both unethical and illegal in most situations “.
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Alexander Hanff does not go into battle unarmed. In 2016, he obtained written confirmation from the European Commission that the scripts used to detect ad blockers fell within the scope of the famous article of the ePrivacy directive. However, the following year the same Commission indicated that a website could be able to check if a user was using an adblock, without consent.
The case is therefore only just beginning and legal arguments are likely to multiply in one camp or another. In the meantime, Internet users will continue to install and uninstall ad blockers en masse!
Playing YouTube causes a lot of ad blocker uninstalls, but also a lot of new installs