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China Reforms Advertisement Policy, Banning Ad Blocking

In a document published by China’s Commerce Bureau, the People’s Republic of China laid out the framework for a new Internet policy advertising law that will take effect September 1. This new Internet policy contains some radical changes to China’s existing Internet guidelines, such as a blanket ban on ad-blocking. The new policy also pushes significantly stricter advertising guidelines, however, which could make it more beneficial to both users and companies.

Changes To Advertising Law

Under China’s new Internet Policy article XVI, all software and hardware that intercepts, filters, covers, fast-forwards or in any way prevents an advertisement from being viewed is prohibited. The policy explicitly points out that ad-block capability in email clients is also prohibited, as is network-level hardware that that may contain ad-block features. In our reading of the document, it would appear China is doing this to encourage what it would consider fair economic development of the Internet.

The new advertising laws do make some attempts to protect individual users from certain types of advertisements. For example, advertisements for prescription drugs and tobacco products are banned, and any products designed for pharmaceutical purposes must be reviewed by China’s advertising agency before they can be put online.

Advertisements are also required to be clearly marked, and they cannot be disguised as other content in an attempt to trick users into clicking them. Pop-up ads will be restricted to clearly display their location, and they must contain a clearly marked close button so as not to trick users.

Email advertisements can only be sent to users that have given the company permission to send them emails containing ads. The number and type of ads will likely be restricted as well, because China deems it illegal for ads to negatively impact the smooth operations of a website.

The People’s Republic of China will also keep a list of companies that are authorized to advertise products on the Internet. These companies will be held responsible for upholding these restrictions.

By carefully regulating Internet advertisements, China may have essentially reduced the need for third-party ad-blocking services by creating a more user-friendly web browsing environment.

This policy has one major issue, however, in that it will be difficult to put into effect. Several popular web browsers and essentially all email clients today feature some sort of ad-blocking technology. The vast majority of wireless routers also feature ad-block and firewall features, as do some operating systems. Long story short, the policy would require a significant reshaping of the computer industry.

  • jasonelmore
    Good luck with that china. they'll never be able to enforce it. This pretty much bans iphones, and any other smartphone that has the capability to run ad-block software.
    Reply
  • Yuka
    "fair economic development of the Internet" -> "carefully regulating Internet advertisements".

    There's something wrong in the middle of that.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • Morbus
    The problem is "ad-blocking" doesn't actually exist. What exists is blocking of servers, or client-side page changes through CSS or Javascript. Banning ad-blocking is like banning getting up from your sofa on the ad-break. The technology is totally legal.
    What China needs to do is to ban specific software like Adblock Plus and stuff. That way I think they can go about their censorship a little bit "better". This way they might as well not bother and just arrest anybody they please, which is what they do anyway.
    Reply
  • bak0n
    Really what China is doing is trying to force Apple out of China now that they've stolen all of Apple's IP. No different than they've done to hundreds of other corporations yearly.
    Reply
  • bystander
    I do like the part where they are going to ban many negative features of ads themselves. I never planned to use an ad-blocker until the advertisement industry went crazy with their ad methods. Auto-play videos, popups, resizing ads, ads which have to be displayed before a page can continue loading and many other insane features need to be stopped.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    If every web page didn't have 1,000,000 ads and 15 videos we wouldn't need ad blockers, would we? :D
    Reply
  • targetdrone
    18308757 said:
    If every web page didn't have 1,000,000 ads and 15 videos we wouldn't need ad blockers, would we? :D

    Malware infected ads is a bigger problem these days. Having an effective ad-blocker is just as important as having good anti-virus software.

    There was a huge dust up earlier this year when Forbes implemented a "No ad blocker" policy then site visitors started getting infected when they disabled their ad blockers.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    What about ads embedded in games (AKA product placement)? Are those illegal, then?

    That also has me wondering about product placement, in movies. With US studios falling all over themselves to cater to the Chinese market, it'd be interesting if it basically killed product placement in major movies.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    18308817 said:
    Malware infected ads is a bigger problem these days. Having an effective ad-blocker is just as important as having good anti-virus software.

    Yeah there's malware ads and there's also Taboola and Outbrain clickbait garbage. The more of those types of ads that can be removed the better.
    Reply
  • falchard
    If you look at the advertisement guidelines it provides a framework for the government to censor certain businesses they personally don't like or don't provide them with kickbacks.
    Reply