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Are blocker blockers ethically correct?

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posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 02:42 AM
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In another post in another thread I raised a question about the ethics surrounding ad blockers. The core question is "is it ethical to circumvent ad blocker blocking measures?".

I specifically refer to ethics and not to Law, as IMHO the Law is not (yet) clear on this.

In as far as Law is concerned, it might be argued that ATS owners might be breaking the Law, at least the British Law. For example, the Computer Misuse Act (1990) clearly defines that nobody is allowed to gain unauthorised access to computer material, let alone unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate commission of further offences - llike for example harassing me with disturbing images. Which BTW might also be punishable under the Protection from Harrassment Act 1997. CMA 1990 also clearly points out that it is an offence to perform unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of computer, etc. - so, if anybody took ATS to Court, they might well have a case. After all, even the simple practice of storing a cookie on a computer without EXPLICIT permission from the end-user (on a per site basis!) in unlawful in at least my country, so we have some precedences. On the other hand, ATS owners have referred to the T&C to justify their action. Then again, if what is in the T&C is unlawful, it is simply invalid. And yes, we indeed promised to switch off our adblockers, but we never gave ATS permission to CHECK this. It would be interesting to see what the Courts would decide if somebody took ATS to Court for breaking the CMA.

But let's face it: nobody will. Simply because it is not that important to anybody. If ATS continues to display unwanted behaviour in the eyes of the users, the users will simply log off and never return. If he users continue to display unwanted behaviour in the eyes of ATS, ATS will simply discontinue their account. But even IFF somebody took somebodye else to Court about this it might well be the case that the Law currently has no provision for situations like these. After all, very many sites on the WWW execute functions that you aren't aware of nor gave explicit permission for to execute inside your (hopely quite well protected) browser. It's standard practice and perhaps Judges would rule as such. Trying to decide on proper behaviour by studying the Law might not be the way to go (for now).

Still, I'd like to know how I, as a responsible person, should act ethically correct.

Ethics, like Law, are moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior. They are often predecessors to Law. Hence, it makes sense to discuss the ethics of ad blockers, anti-ad blockers and anti-anti-ad blockers; we are breaking new grounds here. We might even see a number of camps that apply differing sets of ethics, but eventually we will get to the point where ethics will be tested by Courts.

Now, one starts measuring a circle starting anywhere, so let's plunge in. Many users have pointed out that they feel it is ethically correct to install measures to scrub unwanted content. But not all here have the knowledge and skills to write or find software that does so. Hence some try to find software on-line to stop ATS putting up unwanted content (messages and pseudo ads) and/or blocking functionality. As an example the user StallionDuck:


originally posted by: StallionDuckI'm certain I could find software that will let me bypass the restrictions while still blocking ads and any content


As I currently enjoy a totally ad free ATS, logged in or not, and given that I can upload images: either the owners here have granted me special privileges (kudos to them then) or I have software capable of circumventing the blocker blocker stuff.

I suggest we discuss this, all within a set of assumptions that may - as it is with assumptions - be true or false. These assumptions are that there exists software that can circumvent the restrictions. You may also assume that I know where that software exists, hence I could provide an URL, either on the Darknet or on the Internet and you could simply download the software and install it - and enjoy a totally functional but ad-free ATS again.

Now, after all this, what say you ATS: would it be ethically correct for me to provide that URL (e.g. here)? Why (not)?




posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 02:48 AM
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As far as ethics is concerned my thoughts are this. Its been a really long time since I read the T&C for this site but I believe, at least when I signed up it stated that you couldn't use ad blockers while using the site. If that is still true then I believe ethically you agreed to those terms when you created the account. However I am tired and require fact checking, lol.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 02:51 AM
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I think you nailed it near the beginning. The user can choose to not come here anymore, and therefore circumvent the need to break any supposed rules regarding the use of ad blockers on this site. (They can also whitelist the site).

Secondly, suggesting that great ad blockers are available on the "dark net" is setting unknowing people up for a great fall, you really should not download stuff from the "dark net" especially if you are not savvy about it.

Thirdly, do we really need yet another thread about this?



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 02:57 AM
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I will look so stupid but
No matter how many threads I read with this title I have no idea what you are all talking about .. Zero clue
edit on 10-3-2016 by SilentRaven because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 02:58 AM
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a reply to: Jonjonj

I hope this will not be "yet another thread" about the actions of ATS as such. You are right, we have seen plenty of those. When I posted my question (in one of the other threads) it went largely unnoticed and hence it got never discussed. Hence i started a new thread.

This thread is in as far as I know the only one in which the ETHICS of using software like this are neant to be explicitly discussed. I would like to discuss this politely and away from loud scoffs about the ATS owner or irresponsible users etc. - I hope this answers your question.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 02:58 AM
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a reply to: ForteanOrg

we need the "acme " souper douper blocker - blocker - blocker .

we have to keep one step ahead in the blocker race



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 03:03 AM
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a reply to: ForteanOrg

Well, I understand what you want to say but I can't see how we can ethically justify breaking the rules we agreed to on signing up for the site.
Seems rather unethical to me.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 03:12 AM
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originally posted by: XTexanI believe ethically you agreed to those terms when you created the account.


I somewhat lean towards your opinion: a man a man, a word a word and yes, if you sign a contract, you are bound to it. There are a number of issues here: firstly, are the T&C lawful? If not, signing them has no value at all. Also: given that we are all virtual persons here and TTBOMK currently the Law does not provide any provisions to allow VIRTUAL entities to sign a contract or agreement, and in as far as I know I, as a physical being, have NOT really signed anything, am I bound to the T&C? I don't think so.

Many here will probably not even have read the T&C. Come on, you just signed on to publish the story about your abduction and subsequent travel to Alpha Centauri. Oh, wait, there is a lengthy blob of somewhat legalese .. scroll (not 'read' let alone understand).. scroll .. ah, the button to click *click*. Write. Publish. Enjoy.

Now, say that there was a line in the T&C that says that by signing the T&C you agree to give ATS your credit card number. You never saw that. You did not SIGN anything, you merely ticked a box and clicked a button. Now, one day it proves that clever ad malware snooped your credit card number and published that. ATS now says "oh, but wait, we have this clause in our T&C so we are covered". I don't think so..



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 03:18 AM
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Well, if it's ever taken to court, I've seen several judges that just disregard all the legal mumbo jumbo for common sense. And most if not all of them have never been challenged by being brought before an appellate court, much less a Supreme one. I think common sense is what goes here.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 03:24 AM
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a reply to: ForteanOrg



There are a number of issues here: firstly, are the T&C lawful?


So now it is law, not ethics the debate?



I, as a physical being, have NOT really signed anything, am I bound to the T&C? I don't think so.



It really doesn't matter what you think, if you break the T&C's you can be banned, not much more to say on that really.



Now, say that there was a line in the T&C that says that by signing the T&C you agree to give ATS your credit card number. You never saw that. You did not SIGN anything, you merely ticked a box and clicked a button.


But that didn't happen, false premise.

You can continue if you like, but it seems to me as if you are building yourself a case that isn't practical.

You agree to the T&C's, or you don't, and should act according to your views.

Offering a way around those T&C's seems to me to be a slap in the face to the site if you ask me.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 03:34 AM
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originally posted by: SilentRaven
I will look so stupid but
No matter how many threads I read with this title I have no idea what you are all talking about .. Zero clue


That, my friend, is a very decent, honest and humble posting. And I can totally understand this. I will try to make it clear and if you have any questions left, please don't hesitate and ask.

ATS runs a website (as you probably noticed :cheers
. They try to make money with it. One of their means to do so is by allowing OTHER companies to have ads on the ATS pages. In a way they provide a virtual billboard, then select a group of folks that are allowed to post stuff on it, and if you pass by that billboard (when the ad shows up on your ATS page) and *COULD* see the ads, the are payed for it.

Now, some people are annoyed by ads. Some because they take up a lot of bandwidth, some ads clobber your desktop (especially on tablets and smartphones), some ads my offend you. ATS wlll do their best to prevent insulting or indecent ads to appear on your pages, but even "innocent" ads ma y offend you. E.g. if you just lost a dear one and are swamped with ads that try to sell you life insurance, or ads that try to persuade you to give money to research into the illness that killed your beloved one.

To get around this, some people install special software into their browsers: ad blockers. These ad blockers come with a list of sites that are not allowed to post ads on your (personal) computer / laptop / tablet / whatever. In effect, you will not see ads anymore, you aren't harassed anymore and your bandwidth is freed up. But the other side of the medal is that ATS (or any other site that makes money by allowing others to display ads on your screen) will not make money anymore.

Now, ATS can push software to your computer which checks if you run an ad blocker. They can's stop the ad blocker (if they could they would) but CAN make your browser display alternate content to be displayed inside your browser. Typically messages that try to convince you that it is ethically incorrect (or even legally incorrect) to run your ad blocker.

Now, some users are annoyed by THESE "pseudo ads" too. They in turn may install software inside their browser that scans any page that tries to be displayed inside your browser BEFORE it is displayed, removes blocks with 'pseudo-ads' too and then displays your (now clean) page.

So, we have ad blockers, that remove contents based on the site on which it originates.
We have anti-ad blocker software, created by the web site owner, that can't stop the ad blockers, but can display annoying messages if you have one.
And we have blocker blockers - software that in turn removes the anti-ad blocker software.

I hope I haven't left you confused (but now on a higher level)?



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 03:43 AM
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Aaah another thread discussing the new VIP ATS utopia, well done comrades, well done.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 03:57 AM
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originally posted by: JackReyes
Well, if it's ever taken to court, I've seen several judges that just disregard all the legal mumbo jumbo for common sense. And most if not all of them have never been challenged by being brought before an appellate court, much less a Supreme one. I think common sense is what goes here.


We totally agree.

But ... what is "common sense"? Hence this thread, an attempt to find out.

My personal opinion is that I am the one that decides what I want to see - or not. Nobody is actually disagreeing with me here, not even the ATS owners. But ATS owners say "if you want to see the news, you HAVE to see the ads" - kinda like a free newspaper, that can only be printed because the people that put in ads pay for it.

I have a friend that is utterly afraid of spiders. I knew this, but never realised how bad she suffered from this. Once, we were in a pet shop where they sold items for your cat or dog to play with. One of them was not much more than a number of pipe cleaners bundled together, like this:



My friend was in line waiting to be served, and I tapped her on her back and showed her this item. She went into a complete frenzy, yelled loudly, people from all over the place came for the rescue, she almost fainted. Panic. Afterwards she told me that her husband would pre-read the newspaper for her and clip out or black out any pictures of spiders, she simply could not stand the sight of them.

Now, was that husband doing something illegal? I say he was not. Was he doing something unethical? I'd say he was not. Just the other way around: he prevented her from seeing something she could bare to see. Noble. Totally ethically correct.

Now, if the newspaper would write her a letter in which they insist that she should refrain from blacking out spiders, because the newspaper can only survive if you see the ads - is that newspaper acting ethically? I don't think so.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 04:17 AM
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a reply to: ForteanOrg

When one becomes a member here, one is under an obligation to read and agree to all the terms and conditions of the site, one of which is to be found under section 20b of the aforementioned terms and conditions.

Quoted from the T&C page, a link to which can be found at the bottom of every ATS page:

20b) Ad Blockers: As the Websites are provided as a free service, in part through the income of our advertising, you agree not to use "ad-blocking" software or similar built-in web browser options designed to obfuscate or block online advertising while using the Websites.

Quote ends...

If you are a member here, then you have agreed to this, and many other terms and conditions of the sites use by its membership. Ethically speaking, you are obligated by your signing up here, to honour the terms and conditions and behave in accordance with them. Either that, or you can relinquish your membership. Those are the choices available.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 04:20 AM
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a reply to: ForteanOrg

The difference with your spider example is that the newspaper has already gotten paid for the ads in their paper, so they don't care if you cut anything out of it.

ATS won't get paid if the ads aren't viewed - that is a totally different situation.

To answer your question, the T&C's are legal, or ATS wouldn't include them (don't you think they ran everything by a legal consultant to make sure?). It is totally ethical for a website to have legal rules and conditions for using their site. They have the legal and ethical rights to notify you that you aren't following T&C's (with a big ugly message), or to limit what you can do on their site, or to even ban you if you aren't following the T&C's.

Is it ethical for you to block them from doing what they have a legal and ethical right to do on their own site? In my opinion, no. If you don't like their rules, you have every right to walk away. But if you want to continue using their site, you need to follow their rules.

You are also free to start your own site, without charging anyone, with no ads, paying for maintenance out of your own pocket. I'd like to see how long you could do that.



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 04:20 AM
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originally posted by: Jonjonj
a reply to: ForteanOrgSo now it is law, not ethics the debate?


Well, Law above ethics, though Judges are known to test for ethics too, especially if the Law is unclear (and it often is, intentionally, so Judges have room for interpretation).


It really doesn't matter what you think, if you break the T&C's you can be banned, not much more to say on that really.


Agreed. But that does not require me breaking the T&C, the SO can ban anybody whenever they want, so perhaps the better question is: is it ethical to ban people that (perhaps for very valid reasons) block ads or even block banners?

Please note that we're still discussing this ASSUMING i run a blocker blocker, for all you know my desktop is riddled with ads here and I'm simply bragging


But that didn't happen, false premise.


No, that did not happen. But ads originate from a possibly hostile website, websites can program code as they like, browsers are know to have many security holes, and hence it is totally possible that by enforcing you to switch off part of your protection ATS (one hopes unwillingly!) allows others to access your system. I don' t think that it is unethical to protect myself.


Offering a way around those T&C's seems to me to be a slap in the face to the site if you ask me.


Please note that I am - in as far as I know - not offering a way around the T&C's. I duly noted your opinion: so you think it's unethical to block ads and block anti-block ads, because you ethically (not legally) feel bound to the T&C. Is that a correct summary?



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 04:22 AM
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a reply to: ForteanOrg

Ah finally thank you ok now I get what it is about

I will need to reread the thread

Ok re adds only anyone has that terrible UBER thing everywhere on theirs screen ? Not just ATS it has no closing button (nothing else bothers me ) but this covers 70% most of my pages everywhere on net

Anyway yes i will ask about those blocker things for phones

And general those adds everywhere are getting longer and longer and there is no way around them ( like 5 min Apple Music adds on YouTube is messed up) ok I will read on

And thank you that was very nice from you but I only got half way

edit on 10-3-2016 by SilentRaven because: (no reason given)

edit on 10-3-2016 by SilentRaven because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 04:30 AM
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a reply to: ForteanOrg

I agree to follow the rules once I know what the rules are. I myself was guilty of not knowing the rules regarding ad blockers, in fact I tried to help someone in a thread directly related to this subject quite some time ago. I was not banned, nor was my message removed, as the SO was clearly aware that I was not doing it wilfully. I was simply made aware of the site policy.

However, I think that one of the main points of your OP was whether you should provide url's for ad block software, wasn't it? That is what I mean when I say offering a way around the T&C's.


edit on 10-3-2016 by Jonjonj because: correction



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 04:42 AM
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originally posted by: kaylaluv
a reply to: ForteanOrg

The difference with your spider example is that the newspaper has already gotten paid for the ads in their paper, so they don't care if you cut anything out of it.


Very good point. Who's paying for these ads? And why don't they mind if you clip out the - say - spiders?


You are also free to start your own site, without charging anyone, with no ads, paying for maintenance out of your own pocket. I'd like to see how long you could do that.


Well, there is a big difference between a commercial site and a non-profit site. The "business model" of a non-profit site relies on contributions and voluntury work. As non-profit organisations and their volunteers are mostly deeply respected by societies, many ISP's offer free web hosting for non-profit sites, many volunteers offer free expertise etc. - Actually, part of the problem may well lie with the fact that this site is largely driven by unpaid volunteers, suggesting it is some kind of non-profit, open discussion forum, where in reality it's a (semi?)commercial organisation.

So, let's assume for now that I can and would be able to set up a "free ATS", no ads.

Suppose I'd do that - would that be ethical in your opinion?



posted on Mar, 10 2016 @ 04:46 AM
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originally posted by: SilentRavenOk re adds only anyone has that terrible UBER thing everywhere on theirs screen ?


Yes, that's part of ATS' efforts to get you to switch off ad blockers if you have them on.


And general those adds everywhere are getting longer and longer and there is no way around them ( like 5 min Apple Music adds on YouTube is messed up) ok I will read on


They can be quite annoying, indeed.


And thank you that was very nice from you but I only got half way


If you have any questions, I will try to answer them.



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