If you’ve fallen victim to the YouTube ad-blocker restriction scrouge sweeping the world, there’s still hope that it’ll quietly go away. A European privacy expert filed a formal complaint last month with the formidable Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) regarding YouTube’s ad-blocker detection system. It’s a rather small hope but it’s there.
YouTube has had its eye on increasing its Premium subscriber count for a while, probably since it launched in 2014. This year, the platform ramped up efforts to make the offering more enticing. Some of those efforts have been agreeable, like offering subscribers a higher-quality video setting without ruining its non-paying users’ experience. Conversely, the changes made to ads and the subsequent crackdown on people using ad-blockers have been widely regarded as a bad move by almost everyone.
He’s Hanff enough with YouTube’s snooping
Alexander Hanff, a privacy expert and advocate for privacy and data ethics, told The Register he considers YouTube’s ad-blocker detection script to be spyware because it is “deployed without [his] knowledge or authorization to [his] device for the sole purpose of intercepting and monitoring [his] behaviour.”
Hanff argues this is covered by Sections 2 and 5 of the EU’s Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Act 2017 which has allowed him to file a criminal complaint that he believes will gain more traction.
“I chose to go down the criminal complaint route because historically, EU regulators have been absolutely terrible at enforcing the ePrivacy Directive – and I mean really bad, I would argue even negligent,” he said.
Should Hanff’s filing and its intended message – big companies should stop spying on their users – prove successful, YouTube may cut its losses and opt for a different strategy to gain more Premium subscribers, like maybe adding more attractive features or polishing the features it has already. We did say it was a small hope.