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The article puts a significant emphasis on the idea that bulletproof ad-blocking technology, assuming that's what this turns out to be in practice, will work long-term becuase of legal restrictions imposed by the FTC. If Google, Facebook, or other multi-billion dollar entities detect an existential threat arising from this or any other technology, rest assured that the laws will change as quickly as is necessary to keep them happy. Lobbyists will be paid, and donations will be made. Anti-ad-blocking laws will be introduced, or the FTC's ad identification restrictions will be relaxed. Ads aren't going anywhere, and neither are advertisers.



I unfortunately agree with you 100%. Theres too much money tied up in advertising for it to ever go away.

Google is the greatest conglomeration of Nobel worthy scientists and engineers in the last century. And their entire organization is built on advertising. After creating the best search engine and email system, they created the best web browser and most popular operating system in the world. All of this for the sole purpose of controlling the advertising platform, their raw intelligence is unquestionable.

Google's open source contributions are unmatched and this is just a small sample of the tech they keep hidden away. As much as I find myself in awe of google, I'm absolutely terrified of the ad laden future they're leading us towards with open arms. Ad blocking has one single insurmountable problem, Google, the smartest and most powerful company in the world.


>Google is the greatest conglomeration of Nobel worthy scientists and engineers in the last century.

IIRC both Microsoft and IBM produce way more research than Google. Let's keep things in perspective.

>And their entire organization is built on advertising.

Similarly the entire government is built on taxation, that doesn't mean everyone in the government wants to work on taxation or is good at it.

>After creating the best search engine and email system

Sure engine, sure. Email system, only if you restrict to web-based without privacy.

>they created the best web browser and most popular operating system in the world

Google didn't create Android, they bought it.

>Google's open source contributions are unmatched

Metrics for this are pretty lame, but even they show this is wrong: https://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2016/09/15/in-your-face-goo...


> Google didn't create Android, they bought it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

You'd have a better point if you had pointed to the Linux kernel, the many open source libraries, etc that make it up

> Metrics for this are pretty lame, but even they show this is wrong: https://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2016/09/15/in-your-face-goo...

I doubt GP's claim is correct, but that article is terrible. Those counts are any contributors to repos in an org, not number of contributors from those orgs. And you can see the immediate problem with using orgs when you see both Google and Angular are in the top 10.


Android, Angular, BoringSSL, Chromium, Dart, Go, Kubernete, TensorFlow. Not to mention the cash and services it ploughs into the OSS in various ways, from the Millions it gave to Firefox over the years, to people collaborating over Hangouts, to Project Zero.

I don't think "unmatched" is unreasonable.


Millions to Firefox to be the search engine on the browser.

It wasn't a donation ;)


And they made much more from firefox than what they paid.


How so? If Firefox didn't exist they'd make the same amount from MSIE.


Also the biggest contributors to KVM support in the Linux kernel, which is directly driving most of the container craze.

Also HBase, Hadoop, Guava, GWT, Closure. Tons of others we probably don't know of. I would guess Google has around 500 notable open source projects where they're either major contributors or authors.


You missed one:

>they created the best web browser

opera is not from google

Also I disagree with google search being the best search engine, it used to be very good 15 years ago with pages after pages of relevant results. It has gotten worse over the years to its current state of being terrible and often failing at returning relevant results.


"Nobel worthy scientists and engineers"? You'd never hire one to make you a native ad!

Native ads, integrated or disguised as creative content, are impossible to block. Creative professionals, like film directors, visual artists, writers and even ad executives are the main innovators of native advertising.

I would argue native advertising is where most of the relevant innovation in ads occurs. Not at Google.

Creative content? Not at all Google's expertise. The best engineers are the least equipped to understand appealing creatives.

- Google acquired YouTube, whose basic premise was pirating, not creating, creative content. Despite having the largest video audience in the world, Google could never make something like Netflix's House of Cards.

- They're years away from delivering a compelling experience for Daydream. Never mind a game. Every NYTimes subscriber who received their Cardboard probably threw it away.

- The folks who worked on Make with Code privately describe their Google partners as insufferable.

- The folks who work on Google's creative ad campaigns—video & design—have variously described their Google partners as aloof and stifling.

- Despite its huge penetration, Google Music has no role in music culture. No musician I know thinks about how many plays they get on Google: they worry about Spotify, Hype Machine and other things their manager actually uses. A music manager wouldn't be caught dead with something as uncool as a Google Music subscription.

Indeed, I would argue that Google's culture is toxic to artistic creativity. If they wanted to hire some writers and directors, what would they do: administer a white boarding test? Laughable! That's assuming the people at e.g. ATAP even follow up with their own recruits (which they don't).

Serious creatives are anti-conformist. Google as an institution is something serious creatives criticize and lampoon, not celebrate. Have you seen Silicon Valley? Read Circle?

Listen, I might hate David Eggers's writing. But nobody writes a book about how Netflix is a cult.


While I largely agree with you, I disagree on things like Google Play Music and Movies (includes TV). Their sales platform for other people's content works well. My wife and I used to use Spotify, a good service, but find a $15 / month family plan for YouTube Red (including Play Music) to be a good service and a good deal.

Off topic, but even though I have spent much of the last 30 years working on AI and machine learning, I did work for Disney and Nintendo for a while in the 1990s, and I have a keen amateur's interest in the business side of content production. I never would have predicted the amount of money Amazon, Hulu, Netflicks, and HBO would invest in producing their own content. Interesting that Google does not do the same thing. When I worked at Google as a contractor I enjoyed the visitor talks, and Spike Jone's talk about directing movies and the way he does it was very well received by a large crowd.

I am very glad that there are several large companies competing and not just one or two.

EDIT: I am all for decentralization and small groups/companies, but sadly we live in a world of larger corporations.


YouTube's main tech was contentid, designed to prevent piracy.


Youtube had no tech and was built on piracy to grow quickly and seize the market as fast as possible in order to reach their objective of being bought by one of the giant corp.

Contentid is from google after they bought youtube and was added as an afterthought to deal with the "we own this content, pay us now" industry.


I believe that distinction still goes to University of Chicago.


Right. There is no Nobel Prize for mathematics, computer science, or engineering, which are Google's primary fields.

Although Google deserves an Economics prize for essentially inventing adtech


Google didn't invent adtech, the only thing you can credit them for is to have resisted from contracting a third party ad network and becoming an ad network on their own to be able to keep control on the form their ads take: read less annoying and intrusive: no image, no moving parts, only text thus not alienating their user base and killing their business as other website had been doing.

Funnily from here the primary fields for google seem to be surveillance, tracking, profiling, lobbying, tax evasion, abuse of dominant position, killing useful services people actually use, buying competitors to close them, killing other businesses by making a competitor product available with no price tag (you pay with your personal data being collected), evading anti-monopoly law, and other things in the same vein.


Ads on the Internet existed well ahead of Google. Google simply captured search intent and bought out DoubleClick.


I am sorry, but I do not get the reference? What does it point to?


U of C has the most people that have won the Nobel prize historically which points toward people part of the university to win more Nobel Prizes.


is that because of the psuedo-nobel for economics? i don't think that should count towards the tally, and in any case i would have guessed it was the manhattan project

edit: for those who are downvoting, you might not be aware that the 'nobel' for economics is not issued by the nobel committee but rather the swedish central bank, using the nobel name to appropriate prestige from the better-known prize presented by the norwegian nobel committee. it is not affiliated with the nobel peace prize.


The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is issued by the Nobel Foundation and chosen by the Swedish Academy of Sciences, just like the Physics and Chemistry prizes. The difference is that it was not endowed by Alfred Nobel in his will, but later by the Sveriges Riksbank.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Memorial_Prize_in_Econ...


> edit: for those who are downvoting, you might not be aware that the 'nobel' for economics is not issued by the nobel committee but rather the swedish central bank, using the nobel name to appropriate prestige from the better-known prize presented by the norwegian nobel committee. it is not affiliated with the nobel peace prize.

There are more Nobel prizes than just the economics and peace prizes, only the peace prize comes from Norway.


Wasn't Alfred Nobel the son of an arms dealer, himself an industrial arms dealer who made a fortune out of wars and killing ? IIRC he was dubbed the merchant of death, and he got shunned by this woman he loved because she was a pacifist and refused to be with someone who makes (tons of) money on war and killing.

Trying to PR himself into having a good reputation after his death does not change the fact that he is responsible for countless deaths and made a huge profit out of it.

So a pseudo nobel is imho way better than an actual nobel.


Maybe the downvoters think you're Dick from the internet http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-04-02


> Google is the greatest conglomeration of Nobel worthy scientists and engineers in the last century.

And they are probably all wondering when the first Nobel prize will be issued for "the advancement of ad technology".


There is always a way to avoid ads if you want to. There always will be ways to counteract ad tech, in spite of Google's intelligence. If this makes advertising better in the process, that's very good. As much as people hate ads, they usually welcome the less than 0.01% good ads.


as you say, the search engine, email system, and web browser are the best, but the operating system is merely the most popular.

that does sound about right.


This is too cynical. You can be sure there will be lobbyists involved making the case for companies affected, but this does not guarantee results. Any business plan where there's government involved is risky.

Heck, even with a Republican-controlled Congress, the Republicans can't always get their agenda passed because they don't even agree among themselves what it is.

Nobody can rest easy that Congress will do what they want.


It would be cynical in the case of lower profile companies just looking to get their way. In the case of at least two $400 billion+ companies - combined market cap of nearly $1 trillion and the bedrock our country's image of technology supremacy - the rules change. Members of Congress, senators, and many of their constituents directly or indirectly hold shares in one or both of these companies.

It is unfathomable to me that once brought to their attention (through lobbying and donations) that these kinds of threats to companies like Google and Facebook would not be legislatively blocked.


'Breaking' the internet for 50+ million people is a no go, they would just add a 10$ / month fee at the ISP level just like music CD's, because company's just want money and politicians want to get elected.


"Members of Congress ... that these kinds of threats to companies like Google and Facebook would not be legislatively blocked."

and how would that affect say me (in the UK)?


Hard to say. Since you're a finger in the Hand, I guess the palm would tell you to fold.


..when in comes the EU, who have successfully penalized and stared down Facebook, Intel, Apple and Microsoft. And which is either the biggest (until the Brits have officially left) or the third biggest economy in the world. You can't simply ignore them, even as a company of Google or Apple's size.


This is mainly a covert trade war with the US due to taxes. The US has also succesfully penalized VW.


The brits may not leave, the english will but the scots may leave the UK to stay in the EU which may domino effect northern ireland to leave too and last I check London was thinking about segregating to become a city state to stay in the EU. Also a few islands are expected to be offered to join Spain the minute brexit is acted.

EU rules prevents EU members from dealing directly with a part of a EU member so no negociation are possible with any member of the UK until brexit.

Let's see if the scottish referendum happens...


The EU had two different pending antitrust sanctions for Google, one around shopping ads and one around Android. Then nothing more about it since about mid 2016. Are those still pending?


You do realize they're closer to the Democrat's side on most issues? The Democrats aren't doing so well lately.


Given how common it is for members of Congress to become mega millionaires over a few decades on a job that pays ~$200k/yr, I wouldn't trust them in this capacity.

How many of us would hold steady in our own ethics and morals if someone routinely offered something like a $2,500,000 payday and we had no risk at all of being fired or jailed?


> Given how common it is for members of Congress to become mega millionaires over a few decades on a job that pays ~$200k/yr

Can you provide a source for this? Don't know much about the topic but I've always assumed that, in general, Congressmembers who are wealthy were already wealthy before they were elected to Congress.


If you look at the rate of returns on their investments, they would outpace a lot of Wall Street and definitely most index funds.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/07/10/business/mutfund/congr...


From a different article, that study has some odd data points:

> The study found some significant difference based on party membership and seniority, with the Democratic sample beating the market by nearly 9% annually, versus only about 2% annually for the Republican sample.

> And representatives with the least seniority considerably outperformed those with more seniority.


"Congress Tells Court That Congress Can’t Be Investigated for Insider Trading"

https://theintercept.com/2015/05/07/congress-argues-cant-inv...


But it's not even just a money issue per se. Congress is technology blind (read: stupid). Convincing an idiot to do something dumb is pretty easy. Add in a cash bonus and it's a done deal.

Pardon me, but you sound more naive than the previous comment was cynical :)


>Nobody can rest easy that Congress will do what they want.

Given enough money, I think you definitely can.


Google just has to threaten to move its operations to a different country if they don't get what they want and the political corpus will bow to its will. Intelligence services, banks, tax, jobs, economy, ... many domain would be impacted and pressure congress too so the congress cannot afford to lose google to a foreign country.


And don't forget this affair of lobbyists and whatnot is mostly an American phenomenon. The EU is far more adept at defending consumers, and has not shied away from drastic measures in the past.


I can see it now... "Advertisements are a form of free speech. Corporations are people too."


Advertisements, like any communication, are a form of free speech, but it'd be unprecedented to demand that anyone provide an audience for your speech. You can speak all you like; nobody is obligated to listen.


The audience isn't obligated to listen, but it's also not entitled to use content in a manner that the copyright holder doesn't want them to either.

If a copyright holder (like Forbes) stipulates that their content is paid for using ads and they won't let you consume it without looking at the ads, then you're neither obligated to or entitled to consume it.


Website terms of service are not law, no matter how people have abused the CFAA. You can't control how a browser displays content, whether it does so with a browser, screen reader, or musical interpretive dance.

I look forward to seeing that battle play out.


You may be interested in MDY Industries, LLC v. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.[1] (the WoW Glider case).

World of Warcraft's Terms of Use prohibited bots. The court found that users who used the Glider bot with WoW were violating the Terms of Use and therefore were not licensed to use WoW in that way. Because users running WoW must copy its content from their hard drives to RAM to run it, the court found that using Glider with WoW constituted copyright infringement.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MDY_Industries,_LLC_v._Blizzar....


HN strips trailing periods from URLs; add a period at the end, or click the Search link at the page the above links to, to see the case. The raw opinion is here: https://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/0...

It's a very interesting finding. The appeals court actually did reverse parts of the decision, including the hard-drive-to-RAM argument, ending up in favor of MDY for many of the claims!

But the devil is in the details. Even though MDY wasn't found to be infringing copyright by breaking the covenants of the license agreement against botting (simply copying static code to RAM was not considered sufficient "reproduction" to be infringement)... it was found to violate the DMCA because it was circumventing Blizzard's Warden framework designed to protect access to dynamic server-side materials. MDY therefore had the lower court's "permanent injunction" against doing so upheld.

So if you were to create an ad-blocker detector that detected all current ad-blockers, and required that detector to digitally sign a request for dynamic content, but then someone circumvented that detection by subsequently creating an ad blocker that wasn't detected, would it fall under this precedent and violate the DMCA?

And there's also fuzziness around whether MDY was tortiously interfering ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference ) with Blizzard's contracts with its subscribers. In this case, it wasn't, because MDY arguably was behaving as a good steward here. For instance, the opinion cites how MDY "enhances some players' experience of the game, including players who might not otherwise play WoW at all." One could see an argument that an ad blocker would encourage more visitors... but if there's no other revenue source other than ads, does the pendulum swing in the opposite direction in favor of the content creator?

Very difficult to tell. Just because Adblock Plus avoided a lawsuit in Germany, and (as the research paper from the OP http://randomwalker.info/publications/ad-blocking-framework-... points out) most ad embeddings today are "trivial" overlays that wouldn't be considered DRM per the DMCA, that doesn't mean that advertisers won't evolve another piece of ammunition in this war.

(I am not a lawyer; the above is not legal advice.)


> I am not a lawyer

You might have missed your calling.


I enjoy building products too much :)


Thank you for elaborating on the appeals court's findings. I'm really happy that the HD-to-RAM argument was thrown out.


WoW is hardly a website, let alone one that is freely available for the general public.


Not to mention this basically makes cURL illegal..


cURL.

That's that hacking tool, right? I think I saw it in the Matrix. It's used by nmap.


Lack of means of enforcement doesn't void a copyright.

Forbes in this case seems to be able to control it to a certain degree anyways.


It's a felony to access a computer system without authorization, access a computer system to obtain unauthorized computer services, degrade or disrupt a computer system, take data without authorization, or to use data obtained through misuse of a computer system.

The law is so vague everyone technically commits a felony every time they load a web page. Did ycombinator give you explicit permission to use this server? No, they did not. If they want you punished for posting this and they can find a friendly district attorney, you're screwed.

I'm old enough to remember when the conventional wisdom was that sharing music on the internet wasn't stealing because nobody was being deprived of physical media. Give Google a few years to lobby and create PSAs and people will being going to jail for creating ad blockers.


The law isn't nearly so cut and dry as that. After all, if something operates as a business, and also has a brick-and-mortar storefront, then it is also liable to accessibility guidelines per the ADA (see the lawsuit against Target a few years back).

As such, publicly accessible websites are, in effect, no less common areas than storefronts.

Of course, there's a way around this; websites could establish 'membership requirements' such as using a browser that does not have an ad blocker enabled; the content for most of the website would require being a member and volunteering to abide by membership rules to access. Violate those rules, and you would risk losing your membership and access to the content, though I seriously doubt grounds could be established for a lawsuit over it.


> Did ycombinator give you explicit permission to use this server? No, they did not. If they want you punished for posting this and they can find a friendly district attorney, you're screwed.

Did your local supermarket give you explicit permission to walk on to their premises to go shopping? No - they gave you implied licence to enter their premises which is made obvious by the circumstances.

Similarly, a court would almost certainly find that having a web server which is obviously intended to be publicly accessible would result in an implied licence for use of copyrighted material on the site for typical, expected usage of said site.


Then take away Forbes' safe harbor protection for hacking my computer with unauthorized exploits.


Ever heard of the hyperlink and communication to the public of copyrighted work conundrum that has been solved by a decision of the European Court of Justice ?

  This decision means that once a work is posted on a 
  website where it is freely accessible to the public, the 
  author cannot control how internet users subsequently 
  access this work. For example, a website owner will not be 
  able to use copyright law to ensure that users who wish to 
  access a certain piece of work would have to go via their 
  homepage, where most of their advertising space may be  
  located.
So good luck to forbes with this argument.


Is it within a musicians rights as a copyright holder of their own work, that you can't play their music on <$1,000 speakers?


If a musician clearly put that on the package of a CD, why not? I dont have a constitutional right to buy an artist's CD.


Instead of making shit up about what you think makes sense, please familiarize yourself:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine


In that same article you can see first-sale doctrine gets murky when the distribution is digital. And it pretty much completely falls apart for subscription based services.


I don't think it gets murky. They can't "sell" something but actually mean rent it. That is false advertising, and most people aren't yet accustomed to thinking in this way (i.e. playforsure). A sale is a sale and if people want to redefine it to make what amounts to a highly conditional sale (at best), we should just call that rent.


> The first-sale doctrine does not neatly fit transfers of copies of digital works because an actual transfer does not actually happen -- instead, the recipient receives a new copy of the work while, at the same time, the sender has the original copy (unless that copy is deleted, either automatically or manually). For example, this exact issue played out in Capitol Records, LLC v. ReDigi Inc., a case involving online marketplace for pre-owned digital music.

> E-books have the same issue. Because the first sale doctrine does not apply to electronic books, libraries cannot freely lend e-books indefinitely after purchase. Instead, electronic book publishers came up with business models to sell the subscriptions to the license of the text. This results in e-book publishers placing restrictions on the number of times an e-book can circulate and/or the amount of time a book is within a collection before a library’s license expires, then the book no longer belongs to them.

Legally, it does get murky in the U.S. That has nothing to do with whether it's right or not, but it does mean it's not "making shit up about what you think makes sense". It's the actual precedent described in the very article you linked.


What if the recipient receives the physical support that host the original copy , say a usb thumbdrive or a hard drive and the original customer keeps the copy ?

Then what if the customer gives a copy then delete the original but the OS being windows on the FAT entry is deleted and the data still lives on the drive ?

How would one distinguish between original copy and subsequent copy when they're all identical ?

Last but not least, if you read the fine print when you buy an audio cd, you don't buy the music but a piece of plastic and a license to listen to music the piece of plastic hold. This license forbids you from allowing other people from listening, so if you play the CD on speaker with you window open and someone happens to be walking in the street you are now guilty of an illegal communication to the public of copyrighted content.


Instead of cursing, read the link you posted. FSD is about disposing of a physical artifact, not how a licensed work is used, broadcast, or performed.


So, your argument is that, "how a licensed work is used, broadcast, or performed" is different than real property?

I agree. We shouldn't afford any of the rights we do to 'intellectual property' that we do to real property. Your argument is completely derived from that of the intellectual property owners (aka rentiers).

My argument is that innovation and creativity will continue with very minimal intellectual property protections.

Edit: Therefore, intellectual property protections are useless in the intent:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;…"


What about physical artifact holding a licensed work ? like an audio CD or CD-ROM ? Are you allowed to transfer the physical artifact but not the licensed content ? so now the person owns a CD but it is illegal for her to listen to it because she does not hold the license that was only given to the original buyer ?


If a musician clearly puts on the package of a CD that black people cannot listen to it, is that okay?


No, just like a restaurant can refuse service for not wearing a suit jacket but not because of race. It's not even a slippery slope.


Can an artist stipulate that a music CD must only be listened to on a mac?


Advertisements are a form of free speech.

6 vs 3 Supreme Court

"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorrell_v._IMS_Health_Inc. "


>Advertisements are a form of free speech.

...that can be regulated:

"After passage of the billboard-regulating Highway Beautification Act of 1965, Vermont moved to ban billboards outright in 1968. All billboards were gone from Vermont by 1974. Vermont is one of four states to have prohibited by law all billboards from view of highway rights-of-way, except for signs on the contiguous property of the business location."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Vermont#Conservati...


> ...that can be regulated:

And in the interest of further eludicating those those that are unfamiliar with the nuanced manner in which courts use the term "free speech," I would say:

"That can be regulated, just like all other forms of free speech."

Even protected categories of speech like political speech can be regulated assuming the government interest passes strict scrutiny.


This is the reason why in the USA you will see commercials for medications ("Ask your doctor about XYZ; you know, instead of letting your doctor decide what's best.")


Hahah Actually its worse, "Ask your doctor about XYZ, and if your doctor did not tell you about it, We will find out! Since we know her name and how much XYZ she prescribed vs generic ABC!"


It was Pfizer that pioneered that, and it's cataloged wonderfully in the book "Overdosed America"


Is it really, so why they don't advertise cigarettes?


Because - at least in the US - Tobacco advertising is specifically banned. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Health_Cigarette_Smokin...


But if it is a free speech, doesn't this law then violate the constitution?

I would imagine that if it was a free speech, then tobacco industry already would have this law thrown out.


Can you legally tell children to kill themselves?


Only if you do it on twitter.


If ads are protected free speech how are tobacco ads illegal?


Speech is regulated all the time. Free speech in practice means we bias towards permitting speech, but many categories of speech are regulated. To wit: you cannot lie in advertisements, you cannot incite imminent violence, you can be successfully sued for slander and/or libel, etc.

Read the first two paragraphs of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_in_the_Unite... ; it also discusses commercial speech.


United States still has obscenity laws, a backdoor around first amendment, which can be interpreted to mean whatever the court wants it to mean in any given situation. It exists, unchallenged, because otherwise child pornography would have to be legal.

My question was, wouldn’t this ruling be a basis to challenge the outright Tobacco ad ban?

Before the ban there was still regulation, the ads had to be offset with other content, pro-health etc. Just like with political ads on public airwaves now.

In Canada, for example, the Tobacco ban was successfully challenged in court as violating Freedom of Speech as recently as 1991. Ultimately the ban remained in place because of another backdoor called “peace, order, and good government.”


cases like these usually depend on who is making money in the event of a decision. business make money off advertisements, therefore it's free speech


This was the argument telemarketers used, it was their right to call you and try to sell you crap you don't need!


That sounds annoyingly plausible; how did that claim get overturned?


Hey how do you feel about corporate speech now that you've got someone like Trump who could've used the opposite ruling in Citizens United to clamp down on media criticism?


Watch out for the corresponding ruling that adblockers are not free speech ...


x


Although I agree (in essence) that legal personhood is something most people misunderstand, I'm not sure the NYT is a very good example given that "the press" is specifically listed in the text of the first amendment (and has been understood to mean a newspaper production organization since even before the amendment was ratified).


Wouldn't that fall under freedom of the press?


The law can be passed, whatever it must be (I'm honestly struggling to imagine it), but what is it worth if you can't enforce it? Evidently some people believe they don't steal because it's illegal, but they actually do it only because they can be caught and punished, and it isn't worth the hassle. If we are talking about some abstract computing environment and not just some proprietary, DRM-bound OS — I can chose to show on the screen whatever the fuck I want, if I can watch some movie at all, I also can watch it in vertically-flipped sepia mode, with whichever parts of the picture blacked-out. Same with any content. It may be illegal, but you cannot verify it, and then prove I did it on purpose.

I think solution will be found, but it more likely will be technological. There's no such thing as "end to the arms race". Never can be, almost by definition.

That been said, the "news" here isn't even that much sensational. Just vice.com, as usual. Journalists, eh. The most obvious thing is that CV-based solution, while being buzz-wordy and fashionable isn't preferable by any means: for me the main point of blocking ads is not "hiding them" (I don't even care that much), but making web-pages faster and less obtrusive, which requires blocking ads before they are loaded.


Not sure Anti-ad-blocking laws are practically enforceable. Even with the ad labeling requirements relaxed, unless it is truly deceptive, a CNN could identify it just as well (or better) than we can.


Already you have restrictive software/firmware running on your computer. Look into Intel ME (Management Engine) a likely backdoor into your computer you have no control over, don't know what it does, and can not disable it. It already helps many DRM applications to restrict what content you can play and how. Legislation to disable adblocking could be reinforced already be implemented into the next generation of Intel/AMD chips so you bet this could be enforceable.


> Legislation to disable adblocking could be reinforced already be implemented into the next generation of Intel/AMD chips so you bet this could be enforceable.

But this would be limited to chips to be sold in the US, so US sales would take a hit and import of chips from foreign market would get a boost. Ultimately the chip manufacturers would have to swallow the extra cost of adding this to chips towards the US market while facing a drop in sales in the same market. This situation would prevent the move from actually happening in the first place.


> It already helps many DRM applications to restrict what content you can play and how.

[citation needed] - I'm aware of the hypervisor capabilties of ME but not aware of it being used for DRM yet?



Yeah using PAVP "Protected Audio/Video Path". Basically there are chunks of memory that are only accessible to the Management Engine. (Note at this point it doesn't work in reverse, there is no memory that is not accessible to the Intel ME. It can see and manipulate everything). When your media player wants to play protected video it sends the encrypted content to the graphic card which then sends it through ME for decryption.

But regardless of whether this was already in there or not, Intel could simply put any code in there to force the display of ads or media and there is nothing you can do about it. Also, although this hasn't been done yet as far as we know, they could remotely update your Intel chip the next time you are within range of a known WiFi router to include this new anti-feature.

EDIT: Adding source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Active_Management_Techno...


Do Ryzen chips have this?


AMD has a different but equivalent thing called PSP, or "platform security processor", which is ARM's TrustZone.


Read about Palladium and Trusted computing, basically every CPU from intel and AMD have had this or a similar feature for several years. I'm not sure about ARM.


Luckily no.


@filoleg unfortunately you are wrong. AMD has equally invasive technology called PSP (Platform Security Processor).

"The PSP is a universal computer with it's own CPU, RAM, ROM, clock etc, that can run whatever software AMD wants it to run, hidden from the user. It could load software anytime without you even noticing. AMD controls the PSP by using unique cryptographic keys which are burnt into each PSP." - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13781408

You get all that for free with every new AMD processor, including their new Ryzen chip.


> Not sure Anti-ad-blocking laws are practically enforceable

An anti-ad-blocker ad would probably be easy to enforce: arrest the people making and distributing ad blockers.

However, I think the main threat is a repeal of requirements to label ads (which this technology relies on), not to ban ad-blockers outright. I bet that would cause less resistance. Quoth the OP:

> Perceptual ad-blocking, on the other hand, ignores those codes and those lists. Instead, it uses optical character recognition, design techniques, and container searches (the boxes that ads are commonly put in on a page) to detect words like "sponsored" or "close ad" that are required to appear on every ad, which is what allows it to detect and block Facebook ads.


You assume everyone who writes an ad-blocker lives in the US, or a in country the US has coerced into joining WIPO. If an ad-blocked is written by a Chinese citizen, hosted in a Russian data-center, and attached to an Iranian domain name, what precisely is the US government going to do?


Don't you remember when libdvdcss was so illegal you had to run a script (that Ubuntu shipped) to download it? The horror!


Probably drop a MOAB on the datacenter.


That would work for a country that can't defend itself or retaliate. I'm not sure that applies to any of the three mentioned.


Arbitrarily seize the domain name.


Interesting question. Given the incredible latitude that courts have afforded to the CFAA, if a site put in its TOS that accessing it with an ad blocker enabled is prohibited, would that be actionable? Could ad blocking companies in such a case be held liable for tortious interference and/or conspiracy to violate the CFAA?

I don't know the answer, but I can certainly see a lower court ruling that way before it is decided by the Supreme Court. To be sure, that's where this would be headed if this kind of technology becomes ubiquitous and effective.


I'm pretty sure that, if the ad is embedded into a platform that's locked up with DRM, then an ad-blocker developer would necessarily be violating DMCA provisions by publishing their work. It's thankful that no major PC or mobile OS is yet considered to fall under those regulations, but I think it would already apply in the case of game consoles.


DMCA outside the US is the story of polite anakata and retractable batons.


> Not sure Anti-ad-blocking laws are practically enforceable

Many doubted that DRM was practical to enforce.


Piracy is still booming. It kind of support my point that ad-blocking laws wouldn't be enforceable, just like anti-DRM laws.


And as they were impractical apple removed them from itunes in 2009.


Why not? Even if the risk of getting caught is small, if the penalties are large, the risk isn't worth it. Feel like risking a trip to jail just to avoid some ads?

Not to mention that it is fairly easy for government to clamp down on distribution of software that allows ad blocking.

As blockers will still exist, but adoption will plummet if the only place to get a ad blocker is torrent sites and such.


Thing is an ad-blocker is merely a content blocker that happens to block ads. making ad blocking illegal would not make content blocker illegal.

You could still use those to block trackers which are the underwater part of the online ads iceberg. Making an anti-tracking-blocking law would be a different beast because now you're attacking a fundamental human right to privacy and advertisers would still be mad because they lost their ability to upsell their ads that can't be targeted or retargeted anymore.

Alternatively just go back to using the system hosts file, or replace ad blockers by whole website blockers, use a vpn to a country that does not have this law. There are options around such a nonsense piece of legislation


You just can't jail everybody that avoid DRM or blocks ads. There would be nobody left to pay for said prisons.


Or simply a hardened browser DMCA, with signed write-or-execute JS VM that ensures that integrity of the page as rendered cannot be messed with by some pesky extension.


But then people could just get a list of ad hosts and modify their hosts.txt to redirect those addresses to localhost. I think there's other ways to stop this though. It doesn't seem like a huge stretch for ad providers to give hosts all the stuff to host the ad from their server directly, for example.


You mean EME? They could basically deliver a single-frame video containing the ads, text and image of the page. With some hitboxes layered over the <video> element so that when the user clicks on something it still is interactive.


.. which requires banning all existing browsers, which is something Microsoft, Apple and Google are unlikely to go along with quietly.


So, next step is DRM for webpages/content in addition to video, either you see all or nothing. The W3C is probably already running with the idea to destroy the "free" web :-)


If an anti-ad-blocking law were to pass, the next step would be link blockers to sites with unwanted ads, tracking or other content. This is what I do for sites I'm sick of landing on only to be told I can't see the content unless they're allowed to track me. I haven't seen a link to WSJ, Forbes, Wired, etc. in months. Wide adoption of such a tool would force sites to find a better means of funding or just disappear.


Personally I wouldn't be offended if users of these services were denied access to websites that for example depend on ads. Its something like a violation of contract by the user.


There's no such contract for publicly accessible website. If there was one it could be denounced as any other contract and would allow suing the website for breach of contract.

Then there's countries outside the US with different contract laws, so imagine the headache to have a blog online.


Just like how big coal was able to prevent all EPA regulations, and big tobacco is still allowed to advertise to children and on billboards, right?


For anyone doubting the absolute veracity of this comment, here's a 5 minutes video on how laws are made in America: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5tu32CCA_Ig


If you were right, they'd have already done it. If they can so easily get laws changed to what they prefer, ad-blocking would be illegal right now. It costs Google a lot of money. I haven't seen an ad on their search, adsense or youtube platforms in years.


> If Google, Facebook, or other multi-billion dollar entities detect an existential threat arising from this or any other technology, rest assured that the laws will change as quickly as is necessary to keep them happy. Lobbyists will be paid, and donations will be made

Money will be paid and wolves will be invited in the house to essentially bring a legislation that is not enforceable. As a profit hungry business owner that sounds like a real bad move.

If I were google or facebook I would rather have a much more robust plan B that would involve using technology and size to benefit from the strategy.


Oh, the legislation is enforceable all right: just require cryptographic remote attestation for access to online services.

Corey Doctorow was right about the coming war on general-purpose computing.


In a few decades with no oil to extract from the ground, antibiotic-resistant pathogen everywhere, generalized food insecurity, power shortages, polluted air and difficulties to access clean water I'm pretty sure advertising will be gone and advertisers with their lack of useful or transferable skills will not be part of this world.


I don't think it will get that out of hand. There is huge popular support for ad blocking, and many of the general public would show force on this.


On the flipside, if humans can detect what is an ad, then ultimately a computer (e.g. through deep learning) will also be able to detect it.


There a fairly common forms of advertising that are used because humans are very bad at detecting them (where the commercial message is incorporated into content with another surface purpose rather than delivered alongside it in a discrete form), so that just means those forms will become more common as a share of all ads.


You're forgetting about companies whose business is not ad based (eg. Apple), they will make sure not to allow those laws to pass.


Why do you think google has put so much time and effort into controlling the user agent?


The United States is only one of the many countries that Google and Facebook operate in. They have to follow the laws of the other countries as well, and they have done so in the past. Furthermore, if humans are still able to recognize the ads as ads after they are not explicitly marked as ads, a perceptual ad-blocker might be able to detect them too.

If the adtech companies modify the ads enough that the ads are indistinguishable from non-sponsored content, this xkcd applies: https://xkcd.com/810/.


They have to, but they do not and they argue that they don't have to. This is a thing in Europe right now, among which tax evasion through the double irish sandwich.


Anti-ad-blocking laws sound likely to be as effective as anti-piracy laws.


The music industry failed.


How can anyone prevent me from coding an ML-based ad blocker and releasing it as open source and as something that would install between the broswer and the network?


They can't but very few people would use it if it is (a) illegal and (b) some weird geek thing, so it would not have much cultural or economic impact.




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