Block web AdvertsIn an unexpected move the French ISP Free has rolled out an update to customers, automatically disabling web adverts directly from the broadband modem.

There are many solutions to disable those annoying adverts on websites, this is perhaps the first time an ISP has forced it on users.

It is not clear if this is an error by Free, or intentional -- currently the default setting for the feature is on and users need to adjust their own settings if they wish to see adverts again.

Most people find web adverts annoying, and in many cases intrusive.  I personally have no issue with a few well placed adverts however I do loathe the pop-up and pop-under adverts when you visit a site.  Pages littered with adverts are also an instant turn off for me, as are adverts appearing in the middle of an article.

Online adverts are generally on a site to keep it free, while generating revenue for the owner.  Some sites allow you to pay a small amount for access to an ad-free version of the site but on the whole we see adverts everywhere.  Google's whole business is built on delivering adverts.

The implications for automatic ad-blocking by an ISP are huge, and it could mean the demise of small sites very quickly. Currently there are a number of solutions allowing an individual to block adverts and one of the most popular has to be AdBlock Plus (a browser plugin).  After installing the tool most adverts are removed from a web page.  There are limitations and in some cases it can render a side unstable, but on the whole it works well.  This is however the user's choice, not the ISP.

The Free blocker has been rolled out to Free's 4.8 million customers with early reports suggesting mixed results -- some users seeing no changes, other have no adverts.  Free have branded the feature a 'beta' and users can disable it, however there is no white-list feature to allow adverts from specific sites.

What are your thoughts?  Should we be blocking adverts?  Should it be left to individual users, or the ISP?

site by DAJ