YouTube has recently started preventing people from using ad blockers. According to privacy expert Alexander Hanff, this is not allowed in the EU.
Hanff has filed a complaint with the Irish privacy watchdog DPC, the European headquarters of YouTube’s parent company Google in Dublin. In the complaint, the expert alleges that Google has violated the Telecommunications Act.
According to Hanff, this is the only way Google knows that an ad blocker is being used. In Europe, companies need users’ consent to display and store data, unless it is strictly necessary for the provision of a service. According to Hanff, the European Commission had already confirmed in 2016 that users must give permission for companies to detect ad blockers.
In his complaint, Hanff demands that YouTube stop its anti-ad blocking policy. According to experts, this is “illegal”. Mr. Hanff calls on the Irish watchdog to take immediate action.
Mr. Hanff also urges the public to file a complaint with the DPC. “If the Irish DPC only accepts my complaint, it will probably deal with it after 18 months, but if it accepts 10,000 complaints, it will have a huge impact on the budget [for handling complaints].
There is an exception to this law in the Netherlands, for example. According to the Dutch Consumer Market Agency, Dutch websites are allowed to detect ad blockers. There is no need to inform users about this or give permission.
YouTube has been increasingly bullying ad blocker users in recent months. Various measures are being tried. Some users are not warned to turn off their ad blockers before being blocked, while others are warned three times.
Ad blocker controls are not being rolled out to all users. But YouTube plans to do so.