The newspaper editorsin Mahogany Row are showing that they have completely lost their grip on “new technology” by issuing writs trying to shut down advert-blocking software.
Taking a page from the movie industry, they have decided that the only way to defeat new technology is to stand Canute-like against the rising tide. Karmically being done over by the same forces they unleashed on the printers and journalists who in the 1980s they called dinosaurs.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Newspaper Association of America filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission last week, asking the agency to ban a variety of functions, including “evading metered subscription systems and paywalls,” and ad substitution.
The NAA also called into question new business models that aim to replace online advertising. Newspapers are concerned about the effects that ad-blockers may have on their revenues and their ability to understand and market to their readership.
However if it gets its way the NAA would kill off important and widely used privacy software, like Tor and EFF’s own Privacy Badger, and chip away at Internet users’ ability to control their own browsing experience.
NAA wants an end to all software that enables users to evade metered subscription systems and paywalls. It also wants all users to reveal to them all their personal details so that they can make a bit of cash from thumping them with lots of adverts.
The NAA says that publishers allow readers to sample high-quality content on a limited basis (e.g., 10 articles per month) and then present the reader with a subscription offer (either for digital-only or print-bundled plans).
“Some ad-blockers evade metered subscription services and paywalls by preventing publishers from identifying repeat visitors and making offers to consumers about their subscription services . . . By preventing publishers from identifying repeat visitors and making these offers to them, content blockers harm consumers.”
But this is where the NAA has lost the plot and clearly do not understand the way the technology is leading. Outlawing privacy-enhancing software simply because it might interfere with the operation of some newspapers’ metered paywalls would be profoundly anti-consumer.