A report which came through yesterday noted that Google is reportedly planning to introduce a new ad-blocker to its Chrome browser. According to the details, the ad-blocker would be available on both mobile and desktop versions of Chrome. Now, and in spite of there still being no formal confirmation from Google on the blocker’s existence, Margrethe Vestager, who is better known as the European Commissioner for Competition, has already made it clear that the European Commission's competition authorities will be paying closer attention to the new feature.
While not necessarily made as a formal announcement, Vestager providing the confirmation by way of Twitter and in response to a question from a reporter. Vestager specifically stated in the tweet that “We will follow this new feature and it's effects closely.” Highlighting that in spite of the reports on the feature not even being acknowledged by Google (let alone confirmed), it is already one that is raising concerns for the EU authorities. Of course, Vestager (and the European Commission in general) is no stranger to paying closer attention to Google, as they have already leveled charges at Google on multiple occasions. So it does stand to reason that if the anticompetitive authorities in Europe do feel there is something untoward about this feature, they will be quick and likely to act on it.
In terms of the actual ad-blocker, details are still somewhat limited. However, the previous report did highlight that Google might be planning on unveiling the feature “within weeks” and that it could be activated by default in Chrome. Which is likely what the EU regulators will be most concerned with, as if the understanding is correct, if Google default activate an ad-blocker in its own browser it might prove to be anticompetitive when it comes to other third-party ad-blockers. As they would presumably be unlikely to establish a presence anymore within Chrome. Although, there is some discrepancy still on how much of ad-blocker this actually would be. As the reports on this seem to suggest that the blocker would only block “bad ads” or at least, what Google considers to be bad ads. Which in itself is another aspect that is likely to draw attention from the EU Commission. As Google could become in a position where it could view ads related to its own ads network as ‘good ads,’ and others as bad.