According to a report, YouTube may face criminal charges in Europe for allegedly spying on users. The Alphabet-owned video streaming platform recently banned ad blockers on the service, preventing users who use specific browser extensions from watching videos. A privacy consultant who deemed Google’s new system for blocking ads ‘spyware’ has now launched a probe into the detection of ad blockers on users’ computers, weeks after filing a civil complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commission. Preparing a complaint against Google under Irish law.
Privacy consultant Alexander Hanff is filing a complaint against YouTube under Ireland’s computer misuse laws, The Register reports, Ireland’s National Police have reportedly accepted the consultant’s complaint and have asked for more information. According to Hanff, the video streaming service’s browser interrogation system – tracking scripts designed to identify ad blockers in use on browsers – is the equivalent of spying on citizens in the EU.
Last month, YouTube began cracking down on ad blockers globally, prompting users to either allow ads on the video streaming platform or opt for the company’s YouTube Premium subscription. Days after informing users that the use of ad blockers would not be allowed on the service, the company raised the price of YouTube Premium subscriptions in seven countries – existing customers have a three-month grace period before being charged a new subscription fee. . According to the company.
Hanf also told The Register that he believed the scripts used by YouTube to circumvent ad blockers were deployed with a purpose in mind – to monitor their behavior (what Ads were allowed to be loaded into their browser) without their knowledge or authorization – this was considered spyware.
According to the report, the consultancy chose to file a criminal complaint against the search giant due to the regulators’ poor track record of enforcing the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive (or e-Privacy Directive), implemented in 2002.
Hanff’s decision to file a criminal complaint comes shortly after he filed a civil complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commission against the video streaming platform’s new browser inquiry service. According to the report, Google will now have to respond to the Commission regarding the claims made by the privacy consultant.