France tells internet service provider to end ads block

Free sign Free has argued that Google does not pay its fair share

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A major French internet service provider (ISP) has agreed to abandon its ad-blocking policy - seen as a swipe against Google - after a minister intervened.

Digital Economy minister Fleur Pellerin said she persuaded Free to restore full access to all content on the internet, including Google ads.

Free started blocking ads last week when it updated home router software.

It was seen as forcing Google to pay its fair share to service providers.

The French minister said: "No actor can jeopardise the digital ecosystem in a unilateral way."

Free has argued in the past that Google does not pay its way when ISPs are forced to increase investment in running services like YouTube, which take up a lot of bandwidth.

Google's AdServe online advertising software - which allows online businesses to target their audiences in exchange for a share of the advertising profits - is used on many websites.

'Cuckoo bird'

Philippe Jannet, the former president of Geste, the French online publishers association, said that when operators "see Google come in like a cuckoo bird and make profit off the internet service they provide without receiving a penny in return, it's normal that they get mad".

The move by Free - France's second biggest ISP with more than five million subscribers - would have cost Google up to one million euros every day, a source told news agency AFP.

"That's what would push the giant to speak to the little operator," he added.

Ms Pellerin said she did not have an estimate yet of the financial impact from the fallout. She has scheduled a meeting with Google about Free's actions.

A Free spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.

Google spokesman Al Verney said: "We are aware of Free's actions and are investigating their impact."

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