A French Internet service provider (ISP) with more than 5 million subscribers has taken the unusual step of blocking most web advertising. ISP Free is now blocking most advertisements to subscribers (Français) through an opt-out system; if Free subscribers wish to see web advertising, they will be required to change their router’s settings. Free, one of the country’s most popular ISPs, gained popularity by offering customers an integrated DSL modem/router/digital video recorder in a single set-top box. French website Numerama reports there is no whitelist (Français) for advertisers to bypass the ad blocker.
The decision to block web advertising appears to be part of an ongoing tug-of-war between Free and Google. According to GigaOm’s Robert Andrews and Stacey Higginbotham, French regulators are investigating the company for intentionally slowing YouTube video streaming speeds. French legislators, spurred on by European media organizations seeking new revenue streams, have proposed a law requiring Google to pay for content. Free‘s homepage currently sports a banner ad for the company’s own services.