China may or may not ban ad blockers?

China seems to have updated its Internet Advertising Interim Rules, Article 16 to ban ad blockers in the country. The updated version of the article reads:

“Term 16. Internet ad activities shall not have the following acts: (1) To provide or utilize any application, hardware or so on to block, filter, cover or skip another’s legitimate ad; (2) To utilize a network gateway, device or application to damage the data transmission of legitimate ads or to tamper and block the legitimate ads of others.”

The news was followed by a blog post from adblock software maker Adblock Plus, criticising the move.
However, language in the article seems vague and could point to fraudulent ad traffic and malware instead.
China to ban ad blockers?
Josh Ong, Director Communications, Cheetah Mobile, explains:
josh ong

“The Chinese government’s new rules seem mostly aimed at shutting down predatory and fraudulent advertising businesses and practices that have popped up. I’d expect implementation to focus on cleaning up the bad actors first.”

Indeed, China is full of malware distributors. For example, just recently we reported on Yingmob, the Chinese mobile ad company, that was caught distributing malware across Android devices amassing $300,000 in fraudulent ad revenue per month.
Ted Gao, VP, TalkingData, adds:
ted gao

“There are a lot of participants coming to the market, and these companies are uneven in terms of ethics and technology, which may cause unfair competition. The scale of the market forces the government to pay attention. The demand for a standardized and sustaining market is what motivates the government to design certain policies.”

If the article does relate to ad blockers, it’s unlikely that this will affect consumers, but could be targeted at blockers at network level.
Ironically, ad blockers may be the one thing that could potentially keep consumers safe from malware and fraudulent ads.

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