AdBlock Plus blocked in China: 159m forbidden from stripping adverts

Builders bemoan browser-based banner buster being blatantly banned

The makers of the AdBlock Plus (ABP) say their ad-blocking browser plugin has been effectively outlawed in China by the Chinese government.

ABP communications boss Ben Williams said in a blog post that the ban was part of a larger effort by the state to crack down on technology tampering with ads.

In the process, Williams claims, it and other ad-blocking tools are being "bullied" out of the mainland as casualties of China's tough rules on internet advertising. ABP stands to lose about 159 million of its users as a result of the policy.

"The concept of ad blocking has always been about putting power back into the hands of the consumer, so this robs them of what has become a basic right," he wrote.

China is notorious for the tight grip its officials keep on internet access through its "Great Firewall" network censorship tools. These new regulations, aimed especially at pharmaceutical and medical ads, expressly forbids misleading claims and any tampering with or disabling of ads. This, of course, would mean ABP's basic operation would be illegal.

The developer argues that while the Chinese government's efforts to strip bad or tainted ads from the web is admirable, the Middle Kingdom's heavy-handed policy of also blocking the use of ad-blockers will leave citizens more vulnerable to banners that fling malware at PCs and devices.

"Most recently, in China itself actually, almost 10 million Android smartphones were infected by malware that generates fake ad clicks," Williams added.

"Now, I’m not saying that those users would necessarily have been completely safe if they’d been running an ad blocker, but ad blocking and other tools that would fall under the ban help to mitigate or obliterate that risk."

Williams said that as of right now ABP is waiting to see what officials decide to do before making its next move. If the laws do go into effect as they stand, the plugin will be pulled from China to prevent any of its Chinese users from running the risk of arrest. ®

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