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Is Ad blocking the next legal battleground?

Guy Burgess | Nov. 27, 2012
Consider these two facts: Fact 1: many of the world's largest internet companies, including Google and Facebook, derive most of their revenue from serving up online advertisements.

Another possibility is specific regulation, where a law is passed that specifically bans the use or distribution of ad blocking software.

Similar precedent is found in laws banning the sale of digital rights management "circumvention devices" (ie in New Zealand, s 226A of the Copyright Act 1994 bans the sale or distribution of such devices in certain circumstances).

Notably, New Zealand's law does not ban the private use of DRM circumvention devices. This partly reflects policy decisions about intellectual property and user rights, but also acknowledges the practical difficulty of banning private use of such devices.

It would be draconian, as well as practically impossible, to attempt to prevent users from carrying out their own ad-blocking. Attempts to prevent the creation or distribution of "filter lists" raises significant freedom of speech issues.

As with file sharing, legal and policy direction on browser ad-blocking in this country will likely be heavily influenced by what happens in the US in the coming years.

This article provides general information and does not constitute advice. Professional advice should be sought on specific matters.


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