YouTube’s ad blocker crackdown could be illegal in the EU.
The alleged act could mean YouTube is violating EU privacy laws – however, Google is denying the charge.
What Hanff is saying. Hanff told the Verge:
- “AdBlock detection scripts are spyware — there is no other way to describe them and as such it is not acceptable to deploy them without consent.”
- “I consider any deployment of technology which can be used to spy on my devices is both unethical and illegal in most situations.”
Why we care. If YouTube is found to be in violation of EU privacy laws, users will be able to continue blocking ads, which could have a significant impact on reach for advertisers. However, it’s important to consider that users who have no interest in watching your ad may be of low value to your campaign as they are less likely to convert into customers.
Breaking laws. Hanff claims that YouTube is violating Article 5.3 of the ePrivacy Directive, which states that websites must ask for consent before storing or accessing a user’s information on a device, including:
- The cookies you intend to use.
- The purposes for which you intend to use them;
- Any third parties who may also process information stored in or accessed from the user’s device; and
- The duration of any cookies you wish to set.
Hanff claims that YouTube is also breaching the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Next steps. The Irish DPC has reportedly already acknowledged Hanff’s complaint and has since exchanged “a number of emails” with him. Hanff has said that he wants YouTube to be banned from using ad blocking detection tools.
YouTube Premium. YouTube users currently have the option to pay $13.99 a month for an ad-free subscription, alternatively, they can watch videos for free but with the inclusion of ads. Permitting ad-blocking technology on the platform is likely to impact YouTube Premium sign-ups.
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What YouTube is saying. Search Engine Land has contacted Google for comment. Commenting on its commitment to stop users from leveraging ad blockers, Youtube spokesperson Oluwa Falodun previously told The Verge in a statement:
- “We want to inform viewers thatad blockers violate YouTube’s Terms of Service, and make it easier for them to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad free experience.”
- “Ad blocker detection is not new, and other publishers regularly ask viewers to disable ad blockers.”
- “We take disabling playback very seriously, and will only disable playback if viewers ignore repeated requests to allow ads on YouTube.”
- “In cases when viewers feel they have been falsely flagged as using an ad blocker, they can share this feedback by clicking on the link in the prompt.”
Deep dive. Read our report on YouTube’s intensifying crackdown on ad blockers for more information.