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YouTube’s latest big move would be illegal in the European Union

YouTube's ad blocker detection system would be in breach of European laws

YouTube’s latest big move would be illegal in the European Union
Pedro Domínguez Rojas

Pedro Domínguez Rojas

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YouTube is the world’s most popular video platform, with more than 2 billion monthly active users. However, its business model is based on advertising, which has led to an open war with ad blockers, which have become an increasingly popular tool to avoid seeing ads.

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In recent months, YouTube decided to tighten its policy against ad blockers, detecting them and informing users that they are using software that is not allowed. If this measure was already very negatively received by users, who must deactivate their ad blockers or subscribe to YouTube Premium to watch videos, YouTube could now have problems in Europe.

As WIRED reports, privacy activist Alexander Hanff says YouTube’s new ad blocker detection is illegal under European law, and he is taking the fight to the European Commission.

Hanff, an expert advisor to the European Data Protection Board, alleges that YouTube’s use of JavaScript-based detection scripts to search for specific elements of HTML pages displayed by a user’s browser would breach the EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, which requires online service providers to obtain explicit permission to “access information stored on a subscriber’s or user’s terminal equipment.”

In a complaint filed with Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), Hanff asks the DPC to “take action against YouTube for this breach of the law and require YouTube to cease its unlawful deployment of ad blocker detection tools.”

“The script YouTube deploys is detecting what software people run on their devices or what behavior their browser displays in relation to their private activities. It’s not OK. It’s illegal,” Hanff says. “We have a fundamental right to privacy under Article 7 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. We have a fundamental right to data protection under Article 8″.

YouTube users are divided on the issue of ad blockers. Some believe they are a necessary tool to protect their privacy and avoid being bombarded with ads. Others, however, believe ad blockers are unfair to content creators, who rely on advertising to make a living.

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Pedro Domínguez Rojas

Pedro Domínguez Rojas

Publicist and audiovisual producer in love with social networks. I spend more time thinking about which videogames I will play than playing them.

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