Wired To Block Ad-Blocking Users, Offer Subscription ( 665

AmiMoJo writes: In a blog post Wired has announced that it will begin to block users who block ads on its site: "On an average day, more than 20 percent of the traffic to comes from a reader who is blocking our ads. We know that you come to our site primarily to read our content, but it's important to be clear that advertising is how we keep WIRED going," wrote the editors. The post goes on to offer two options for users blocking ads: whitelist or subscribe for $1/week.

Adblock Plus Maker Seeks Deal With Ad Industry Players ( 356

An anonymous reader writes with Yahoo's report that the makers of Adblock Plus are "looking to reach out to advertisers and identify an 'acceptable' level and form of advertising on the net." That involves convincing advertisers to conform to the company's own guidelines for advertising, or an alternative path much disliked by some of the software's users — to pay the company to ignore ads that don't meet those guidelines. From the article: Big websites can pay a fee not to be blocked. And it is these proceeds that finance the Cologne-based company and its 49-strong workforce. While Google and Amazon have paid up, others refuse. Axel Springer, which publishers Germany's best-selling daily Bild, accuses [Adblock Plus maker] Eyeo of racketeering. "We believe Eyeo's business model is against the law," a spokesman for Springer told AFP. "Clearly, Eyeo's primary aim is to get its hands on a share of the advertising revenues." Ultimately, such practices posed a threat to the professional journalism on the web, he suggested, an argument Eyeo rejects.

Online Ad Czar Berates Adblockers As Freedom-Hating 'Mafia' ( 539

An anonymous reader writes: Randall Rothenburg, the president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has made a speech branding the creators of Adblock Plus (who were banned from the conference where he made this keynote) as "rich and self-righteous," and accused adblockers of subverting freedom of the press. Speaking at the IAB's annual conference, Rothenburg characterized the Adblock Plus team as "operating a business model predicated on censorship of content."
The Courts

Stingray Case Lawyers: "Everyone Knows Cell Phones Generate Location Data" ( 171

An anonymous reader writes with news that the Maryland Attorney General is arguing that anyone who has ever used a smartphone knows it's tracking them, so no warrant is needed for stingrays. Techdirt says: "Up in Baltimore, where law enforcement Stingray device use hit critical mass faster and more furiously than anywhere else in the country (to date...) with the exposure of 4,300 deployments in seven years, the government is still arguing there's no reason to bring search warrants into this. The state's Attorney General apparently would like the Baltimore PD's use of pen register orders to remain standard operating procedure. According to a brief filed in a criminal case relying on the warrantless deployment of an IMSI catcher (in this case a Hailstorm), the state believes there's no reason for police to seek a warrant because everyone "knows" cell phones generate data when they're turned on or in use.

The brief reads in part: 'The whereabouts of a cellular telephone are not "withdrawn from public view" until it is turned off, or its SIM card removed. Anyone who has ever used a smartphone is aware that the phone broadcasts its position on the map, leading to, for example, search results and advertising tailored for the user's location, or to a "ride-sharing" car appearing at one's address. And certainly anyone who has ever used any sort of cellular telephone knows that it must be in contact with an outside cell tower to function.'"

German Court: "Sharing" Your Amazon Purchases Is Spamming ( 195

An anonymous reader writes: A court in Germany has ruled that the 'Share' links which Amazon provides to customers directly after making a purchase at the site are unlawful. The "Share" functionality provides buttons which allow the consumer to signal a new purchase via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or email. The court, ratifying an earlier decision made at a lower court, declared that emails initiated via the Share function constitute "unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment."

Google Says It Killed 780 Million 'Bad Ads' In 2015 ( 92

itwbennett writes: According to a new Google report, the search giant disabled more than 780 million "bad ads," including include ads for counterfeit products, misleading or unapproved pharmaceuticals, weight loss scams, phishing ploys, unwanted software and "trick-to-click" cons, globally last year. This marks a 49 percent increase over 2014. For perspective, it would take an individual nearly 25 years to look at the 780 million ads Google removed last year for just one second each, according to Google. If the trend continues, Google's team of more than 1,000 staffers dedicated to killing spam will be even busier in 2016, and they could disable more than a billion junky ads.

Former Mozilla CEO Launches Security-Centric Browser Brave 223

rudy_wayne writes: Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has launched a new Chromium-based browser called Brave. "Brave blocks everything: initial signaling/analytics scripts that start the programmatic advertising 'dirty pipe', impression-tracking pixels, and ad-click confirmation signals," Eich wrote on the Brave site. Former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal said in a blog post that "the web is broken," with current browser vendors unwilling to tackle the dilemma of blocking ads, while looking at alternative mechanisms for funding content. Gal said it was ironic Brave was a for-profit operation that can make money from reducing advertising.

Adblock Plus Blocked From Attending Online Ad Industry's Big Annual Conference ( 442

An anonymous reader writes: Adblock Plus has been uninvited to the upcoming IAB Leadership Summit and is having its registration fee refunded. The company was informed of the cancellation in an email with little explanation. A company blog post reads in part: "Unfortunately, the top brass at the US IAB don't want us coming to their Leadership Summit next week in Palm Desert, California. We attended last year, and we signed up again for their 2016 meeting including paying the hefty entrance fee. We were fully confirmed and they even listed us on their website as a participant. Then this week we got one of those sudden emails that land in your inbox innocently, then floor you with something weird, unbelievable or ridiculous when you click on them. This one came from an unfamiliar IAB address, and it informed us that our registration for the summit was canceled and our fee refunded."

Rights Groups Push For Strong Broadband Privacy Rules ( 29

An anonymous reader writes: A coalition of rights groups has sent a letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission asking for tougher privacy regulations on providers of broadband internet services. The letter was sent by the ACLU, the EFF, Public Citizen, and over 50 other groups. "Critics say broadband providers are already harvesting huge amounts of consumer data for use in targeted advertising, the groups wrote. 'This can create a chilling effect on speech and increase the potential for discriminatory practices derived from data use,' the letter said." FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said such firms need to ensure their data is protected, and that consumers should know more about what data is being collected, but he hasn't addressed whether the data should be harvested in the first place. He expects the FCC to review these practices "in the next several months."

Whatsapp Will Become Free, Companies Can Pay To Reach Users ( 92

speedplane writes: The popular messaging service Whatsapp will soon become free (they previously charged $0.99 per year after the first). The troubling news is that to compensate for the lost revenue, companies will now be able to pay to contact users directly. "[Whatsapp founder] Mr. Koum said that his team was still experimenting with how such services could work, and that many companies were already using the messaging service, particularly in developing countries, to connect with mobile-savvy customers." If this smells like advertising, Whatsapp vehemently disagrees. A portion of their statement reads: "...people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no."
Wireless Networking

Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Router With Active Antennas Tested ( 85

MojoKid writes: Netgear recently launched the Nighthawk X8 router, which is part of a new round of second-gen wireless AC devices dubbed "Wave 2", carrying the AC5300 moniker. Instead of using a 3x3 configuration with six antennae, this router offers a 4x4 configuration, with four internal antennae and four active external antennae, each with their own blue LEDs to signal their active state. The actual amplifiers are on the antennae themselves, rather than down on the main board, helping to boost the signal and minimize crosstalk and loss associated with modern PCB circuitry. Each 5GHz radio is able to broadcast at 2.1Gbps compared to 1.3Gbps on Gen 1 devices, and the bandwidth on the 2.4GHz channel is also increased from 600Mb/s on Gen 1 devices to 1GB/s. When you take both 5GHz channels at 2,100Mb/s and add it to the 1,000Mb/s on the 2.4GHz channel, you end up with a number around 5,300Mb/s, hence the branding. Performance-wise, the Nighthawk X8 is one of the fastest Wi-Fi routers on the market currently. However, its hefty price point might be hard to justify for most mainstream users. Enthusiasts and small office/home office users looking for ultimate range on a 5GHz channel with lots of clients connected will appreciate this routers throughput and power, however.

Universal To License Music To SoundCloud In Streaming Deal ( 49

An anonymous reader writes: Universal Music Group has agreed to license its music to online audio platform SoundCloud – a major step for the popular startup, which has struggled to receive legitimate recognition in the industry. SoundCloud will enjoy access to Universal material, including work from top global artists signed to the label such as Adele, Taylor Swift and Kanye West. Conversely Universal will be able to access SoundCloud's advertising, analytics and data tools with the aim of increasing revenue streams and bolstering fan/artist engagement.

Apple Purchases Software Company To Read Users' Expressions ( 56

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's first disclosed acquisition of 2016 is software company Emotient, which specializes in reading users' expressions while they operate computers. Emotient uses AI software to break down micro-emotions shown on each face in a video frame and quantify it into three indicators: is the subject paying attention to the advertising, are they emotionally engaged, and are they showing a positive or negative emotion? The faces are pixelated to provide user anonymity without sacrificing the expression.

Forbes Asks Readers To Disable Adblock, Serves Up Malvertising ( 406

Deathlizard writes with a report at Engadget that when this year's "Forbes 30 Under 30" list came out , "it featured a prominent security researcher. Other researchers were pleased to see one of their own getting positive attention, and visited the site in droves to view the list. On arrival, like a growing number of websites, Forbes asked readers to turn off ad blockers in order to view the article. After doing so, visitors were immediately served with pop-under malware, primed to infect their computers, and likely silently steal passwords, personal data and banking information."

Brain Game Maker Lumosity Fined $2 Million For False Advertising ( 70

sciencehabit writes: Lumos Labs, the company that produces the popular 'brain-training' program Lumosity, yesterday agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for running deceptive advertisements. Lumos had claimed that its online games can help users perform better at work and in school, and stave off cognitive deficits associated with serious diseases such as Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress.

The $2 million settlement will be used to compensate Lumosity consumers who were misled by false advertising, says Michelle Rusk, a spokesperson with the FTC in Washington, D.C. The company will also be required to provide an easy way to cancel auto-renewal billing for the service, which includes online and mobile app subscriptions, with payments ranging from $14.95 monthly to lifetime memberships for $299.95. Before consumers can access the games, a pop-up screen will alert them to the FTC's order and allow them to avoid future billing, Rusk says.

The Internet

New York Begins Public Gigabit Wi-Fi Rollout ( 107

An anonymous reader writes: Workers in New York City have begun installing the city's first LinkNYC kiosks. The kiosks are free, public Wi-Fi access points, which are taking the spots formerly occupied by phone booths. 500 more of these hubs will be installed by mid-July, and the full network will eventually include over 7,500 of them. "Once completed, the hubs will also include USB device charging ports, touchscreen web browsing, and two 55-inch advertising displays." The displays are expected to bring the city $500 million in revenue over the next 12 years. When the project was announced in 2014, officials said construction would start "next year." They sure cut it close.

ASUS To Include AdBlock Plus On All Phones and Tablets In 2016 ( 189

JoeyRox writes: Starting in 2016 Asus will ship all phones and tablets with AdBlock Plus integrated into their mobile browser. The ad-blocking software will not only be pre-installed but enabled by default as well. The move to include ad-blocking software on mobile devices is significant because unlike desktop users the percentage of mobile users presently employing ad-blocking software is very low at approximately 2%.

FTC Issues New Rules for Native Advertising on the Internet ( 120

popo writes: Native Advertising, or advertorial content that's camouflaged to mimic a site's original content is all the rage among web publishers these days particularly as ad-blocking takes a bigger and bigger bite out of traditional web-advertising revenues. Well the FTC reiterated its position on native ads and may have just slammed the door shut on this "alternative" form of online advertising. The verdict: If it's not clearly marked "advertising", it may be considered misleading. And by misleading, the FTC means illegal. Of course, from an adblocking perspective, once you clearly indicate something is an ad — you make it all the more easy to block. Which defeats one of the primary goals of native ads to begin with.

AdBlock Plus Updates Acceptable Ads Policy 523

AmiMoJo writes: By default the popular AdBlock Plus plug-in allows some "acceptable" ads to be displayed. A blog post announcing updates to policy describes the goals of the update: easier to understand, more robust and more explicit about what is and isn't acceptable. The new criteria are listed on another page, and the option to disable acceptable ads remains.

Yahoo To Spin Off Everything That Makes It Yahoo ( 210

An anonymous reader writes: Yahoo has confirmed reports from last week by saying it plans to spin off all of its assets aside from its $31 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. "In the reverse spin off, Yahoo's assets and liabilities other than the Alibaba stake would be transferred to a newly formed company, the stock of which would be distributed pro rata to Yahoo shareholders resulting in two separate publicly-traded companies." Their decision was spurred by how stock market traders were weighing the tax risk of spinning off the most valuable part of the company.

The article notes that this probably means trouble for CEO Marissa Mayer: "Ms. Mayer, who was hired in 2012 to turn around Yahoo, had planned to spin off the company's 15 percent stake in Alibaba, bundled with a small-business services unit, into a new company called Aabaco. She then planned to focus on improving the company's core business, the sale of advertising that is shown to the roughly one billion users of Yahoo's apps and websites. Ms. Mayer is now effectively back to square one. Yahoo's core Internet operations are struggling, even though the chief executive has made dozens of acquisitions, added original video and magazine-style content, and released new apps."

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