Adblocking Year in Review

Discussion of topics related to ad blocking.

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gotitbro
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Adblocking Year in Review

Post by gotitbro » Sun Dec 24, 2017 5:56 pm

The year's coming to a close and the holiday season has already begun. Looks like a time to take a look at this years major adblocking events.

Adblocking Year in Review:
  • The most major event will have to be the EasyList DMCA one. An advertising company, Admiral, sent a DMCA notice to the EasyList authors via GitHub to remove their anti-adblock domain from the filter list and the notice was complied with. They claimed that blocking it circumvented their protection measures but many others argued that domain names don't fall under DMCA and it was a false/invalid notice.

    Even the EFF were ready to support the EasyList authors fight against the notice. Though nothing followed and the domain is still removed from the list. It remains to be seen how this issue will evolve. (viewtopic.php?f=106&t=37797)
  • JavaScript Crypto miners made an appearance towards the middle of this year in August/September and fast gained momentum in the coming months. JS miners run quietly in the background of a website, using your CPU's power to mine cryptocurrency (mostly Monero) for the website owners. The most popular of these JS miners Coinhive was also hacked but the maintainers regained back control.

    Many not so legal websites are the major ones using them (torrents, online streaming sites, etc.) but instances of legitimate websites using them have also emerged (such as the UFC website). Adblock filter lists were created to block these JS miners in response and uBlock has its own list that blocks them turned on by default now. (viewtopic.php?f=106&t=38230)
  • Google announced plans to turn on adblocking by default in Chrome but it will only block advertisements that don't comply with the Coalition for Better Ads standards such as popups, full page ads etc. It will be rolled out next year. This is being seen as a major move in the advertising industry and many are up in arms about it, Chrome commands more than 50% of browser market share.
    (viewtopic.php?f=106&t=38915)
  • Eyeo the company behind Adblock Plus once again won a case against adblocking and Adblock Plus brought out by media companies in Germany. It was, as in the previous cases, ruled that it is completely legal to block ads. In a similar case in the previous year this same ruling was upheld though it was ruled that Eyeo charging Axel Springer for whitelisting it was illegal. In contrast, the ruling this year held that the whitelisting is legal as well.

    It was also held that anti adblocking by publishers was legal. Eyeo said that they "respect the publishers' settings and their decision" and that they do not circumvent paywalls. Possibly implying that they won't actively counter anti-adblocking walls. (http://www.zdnet.com/article/adblock-plus-wins-again-new-court-ruling-backs-ad-blocker-against-media-firms/)
  • Flattr an online donation/micropayments company was bought out by Eyeo.
    (https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/05/adblock-plus-acquires-flattr/)
  • uBlock crossed 10 million users on Chrome (Chrome webstore does not show user numbers beyond that). It has around 4 million users on Firefox.
    (viewtopic.php?f=106&t=38968)

I believe this covers most of the adblocking events. I hope I didn't miss anything.

gotitbro
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Post by gotitbro » Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:26 pm

I don't know how I missed this. This was one of the major (actually huge) events, that directly affected adblock users.
  • RoughTed a large malvertising campaign directly targeting adblock users was uncovered in May this year by Malwarebytes. What the malvert does is it redirects you from the website you visited (if it detects you are using an adblock) to another domain (there are a lot of these RoughTed domains) which contains the initially visited website in an iframe. It probably does this to stop domain specific filters from working on such domains.

    This has serious implications as the malvert can redirect you to any website which can actually harm your computer. The website owners using this are directly harming their visitors and probably don't care about them. You should probably stay away from such websites.

    It also shows that many bad actors are directly trying to get through adblock users, many of which had installed an adblock to protect themselves from these nefarious persons in the first place. This does indeed raise the question "Is installing an adblock more unsafe than not not having one nowadays?"
    (viewtopic.php?f=62&t=33507&p=121250#p121250)

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