France-based telecom company Free has been forced by the government to restore online advertisements on the grounds that the telco lacked the right to dictate its audience’s content preference.
In what may become case in point in other such disputes globally, it is now clear that ISPs cannot dictate content for their audience, as the dispute between content providers and ISPs become clearer.
Free had upgraded its software to block all adverts,claiming that the content providers used too much broadband.
But the French government has now stepped in to block the move.
“An Internet service provider cannot unilaterally implement such blocking. This kind of blocking is inconsistent with a free and open Internet, to which I am very attached,” said Fleur Pellerin, the French minister for the digital economy.
This comes as it emerges that the government is investigating the company for its discriminatory practices against YouTube in a case filed by a French consumer organisation.
In last week’s ad-blocking, most of the advertisements affected were those by Google.
The question as to whether Europe should head the way of the United States in regulation of broadband providers is one authorities will be looking at more objectively.
In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has imposed guidelines barring operators of fixed line broadband networks from blocking access to sites providing lawful content. In Europe, regulators prefer the laissez-faire model in which they stay away from the economic activities of the private sector.