Sunday, September 27, 2015

New Front in Net Neutrality Wars?

Whatever the eventual implications widespread ad blocking might have on Internet app and content variety and openness, it is within the realm of possibility that new forms of net neutrality debates will emerge, with the focus on device suppliers rather than app providers or access providers, which up to this point have taken the brunt of criticism.

The reason is simply that Apple’s move to enable ad blocking by developers on iOS 9 devices creates the potential for gatekeeping on Apple’s part. That is not to say Apple would take such steps; only to note that it could.

The potential form of control would be an Apple-sponsored “fast running” version of iOS, with integrated ad blocking, or a standard version that allows apps to block ads if they choose to do so, or allows consumers to add their own ad blockers, but does not come automatically designed to run faster because ad blocking is more efficiently integrated into the operating system.

In a hypothetical case, Apple’s “fast browser” option would eliminate all ads, by default. The “slower” version would allow all ads by default, while allowing each app or each user the ability to add such features.

Of course, the “fast” version might use a subscription model, generating direct revenue for Apple.

As many have noted, that would lead to many apps and sites becoming less sustainable, or not sustainable at all. But such fast and slow operating systems might lead to yet another wave of debate and action around network neutrality.

If fast lanes or favored apps are violations, why not fast or slow browser operation?

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