A potentially significant development took place in France yesterday, as the government prevented an internet service provider, Free, from blocking online advertising.
Free, like all ISPs, carries an enormous volume of ad traffic from Google and others, and it believes it’s due a slice of that ad revenue, especially given the expensive investment required to upgrade its own network.
Google believes that this violates the principle of net neutrality, under which all online content is treated equally, and the French government appears to agree with them. In practice, ISPs can – and do – throttle bandwidth, especially at peak hours, for things like P2P traffic. And, while surely no one ever left an ISP because they were getting too few pop-ups, users tend not to like it when an ISP decides what they should and shouldn’t see. This test case could well set a precedent that affects how ISPs handle data for years to come. Worth keeping an eye on – what effect will it have on media jobs in France?