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Is automatic ad-blocking coming to your mobile network?

European mobile carriers plan to take the shine off of online advertising with network-wide ad-blocking

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Mobile operators in Europe may be planning to block online ads from appearing in your Android’s browser and apps. A report by the Financial Times claims one unnamed carrier has installed ad-blocking software on its network and plans to start using it by the end of the year.

The software is developed by Shine, an Israeli startup, which allows mobile networks to filter out ads provided by Google and others. Shine is partially funded by Horzion Ventures, the investment fund of Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest person. Mr Li also controls Hutchison Whampoa, one of the world’s largest telecoms groups, which owns the Three network.

Roi Carthy, chief marketing officer for Shine, confirmed to Little Green Robot that the Financial Times article is accurate, but declined to say which networks they are working with. A spokesperson for Three also said they were not using Shine technology.

Shine argues that online advertising has gone unchecked, with obstructive banner ads and cookies that invade our privacy by collecting data. It can also cost mobile users money. According to Shine, pop-ups, auto-playing videos and other forms of digital advertising can consume 10-50 per cent of a mobile subscriber’s data plan each month.

“Shine champions consumers’ right to choose to block ads on mobile, as they can do on desktops,” said Roi Carthy. “We do not believe this right impedes innovation.”

However, this is exactly what Shine’s critics accuse it of doing. A spokesperson for Google, which makes the lion’s share of its money from advertising, said: “People pay for mobile internet packages so they can access the apps, video streaming, webmail and other services they love, many of which are funded by ads. Google and other web companies invest heavily in developing these services — and in the behind-the-scenes infrastructure to deliver them.”

An indepedent report by Cambridge University found that 73 per cent of Android apps were free and, of those, 80 per cent relied on advertising as their main business model in 2012. With the number of apps on the Play Store swelling year-on-year, it’s high likely more developers are now reliant on this income.

Currently there are some 144 million people around the world who are active ad-blocker users, a number that grew 70% between June 2013 and June 2014, according to PageFair and Adobe. Ironicially, the report says this growth was driven by Google’s own desktop Chrome browser, on which ad-blocking penetration nearly doubled during this time.

The unnamed carrier would not be the first European firm to embrace ad-blocking. In 2013, a French internet service provider, Fresh, attempted to block online ads in a firmware update to its router, but was forced to back down by the government.

Do you agree with ad-blocking? Let us know in the comments.

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