France Orders Internet Provider to Stop Blocking Ads

Can't control what users see, but they aren't getting share of the revenue


In a potential test case for Europe, the French government on Monday ordered a big Internet service provider to stop blocking online advertisements, saying the company had no right to edit the contents of the Web for users.

The dispute has turned into a gauge of how France, and perhaps the rest of Europe, will mediate a struggle between telecommunications providers against Internet companies like Google, which generate billions of dollars in revenue from traffic that travels freely on their networks.

European telecommunications companies want a share of that money, saying they need it to finance investments in faster broadband networks—and, as the latest incident shows, they are willing to flex their muscles to get it.