NMA Welcomes New Guidance on Adblocking

EU net neutrality rules should not be interpreted as permitting network-wide blocking of advertising by internet service providers, the Body for European Regulators of Electronic Communications has advised, in a move welcomed by the News Media Association.

In its finalised guidelines on implementing the 2015 European Net Neutrality Regulation, BEREC said that the prohibition on network-wide adblocking should apply even when the user opts in.

News Media Europe has also welcomed the move, which has been widely seen as a boost for publishers and advertisers.

NME posted on Twitter that was; “happy with EU net neutrality rules – we believe an open internet is central for press freedom and media pluralism”.

The guidelines, which were unveiled after a summer-long consultation, state that: “ISPs should not block, slow down, alter, restrict, interfere with, degrade or discriminate advertising when providing an IAS [internet access services].”

BEREC affirms that the only circumstances in which the Regulation permits content blocking at ISP level is to comply with a EU legislation (or EU-complaint national legislation), to manage levels of traffic across a network, or for security.

In its summary of stakeholder consultation responses, BEREC states that it does not consider that end-user consent enables ISPs to engage in such practices at the network level, although users will be able to install these features themselves at their own terminal. 

The report states: “End-users may independently choose to apply equivalent features, for example via their terminal equipment or more generally on the applications running at the terminal equipment, but BEREC considers that management of such features at the network level would not be consistent with the Regulation.”

It will now be for Ofcom to implement the Regulation in the UK and to take the guideline into account as it does so.