Despite being one of the leading nations of the world, France has been surprisingly lax in its governance of internet usage and the content accessible to its people. Other major countries like the US and Canada have been strict at imposing sanctions on any users or websites uploading unsuitable content. However, the French authorities seem to have woken up to the modern dynamics of the cyber world when they ordered Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to stop blocking Google Ads.
Free Blocks Google Ads
France has never taken any strong action against any website or other content being banned or blocked by the ISPs in the country. Yet, this time round, the action taken by an ISP was significant enough for the authorities to sit up and take notice. One of the leading internet providers in France, Free had recently upgraded their software which enabled them to block the ads posted by Google on the internet. An average internet user would know that Google ads are a constant presence on a majority of websites.
The Government Orders Free Backtrack
The French Minister for Digital Economy Fleur Pellerin has ordered that Free roll back the changes it made to its software which enabled it to block Google’s ads. According to Pellerin, any ISP on its own could not take the decision to block online content. Only the users who are signed up to ‘Free’ are unable to view the ads posted by Google while the rest of France can. Pellerin further stated that this action directly goes against the concept of free internet.
Free has since gone back from its position and allowed the Google ads to display. It may seem like the government has finally realized the importance of blocking online content. Given the past history of the government, it may seem like a one-off. If a huge name like Google would not have been involved in the situation, it is unlikely that Pellerin would have shown this much interest. It remains to be seen if any such actions and orders are carried out in the future.
Why Free Blocked Google Ads
The one question which remains after the dust has settled is why Free took the action of blocking Google’s ads. After all, the ads are part and parcel of internet browsing the world over. Surely, the users would have noticed they aren’t able to see the ads. The reason, it turns out, is pure commerce. Free has already made public its displeasure as not receiving any money for handling the heavy traffic from its users. Most of the websites it has to handle carry a lot of Google ads.
However, they aren’t paid a dime for doing so. So, it can be seen as a way to make Google understand its worth. Google’s ads are seen the world over, not just in France. Why shouldn’t French ISPs benefit from providing access to users to the websites which carry the ads? The way Google responds to the situation, if it does, would be interesting.
[Image via twylah]