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French ISP Free updates its DSL modems with an ad blocker that's enabled by default

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Freebox Server Free France
Freebox Server Free France

French internet service provider Free has snuck a bit of a surprise into what would otherwise be a fairly standard firmare update for its DSL modems. In addition to a couple of bugfixes, update 1.1.9 for the Freebox Server modem adds a beta ad blocker to the settings menu, and most surprisingly, it is enabled by default once users reset their systems. Some French technology blogs note that the blocker doesn't seem to be particularly effective, but it does appear to be blocking Google AdWords and banner ads on some sites. Clubic notes that "the majority of the sites aren't affected" and that the ad blocker isn't working consistently across regions. (For instance, reports say that it is functioning in Paris, but not in Lyon.) Users are able to disable the function, but there isn't a whitelist for customers to specify which sites not to block. It's a curious move for a major ISP to make — it reminds us a bit of Dish's decision to offer automatic ad skipping to its DVR customers — and we suspect that content creators may not be very happy with the new feature.