AdBlock Plus accuses Axel Springer of censorship after ad-block move

Axel Springer’s war with ad-blocking firm Eyeo’s Adblock Plus continues to rage.

According to AdBlock Plus, the German publisher has tried to quash conversations about how to get around the wall that Axel Springer erected to keep ad block users from accessing its tabloid site Bild. Adblock Plus is claiming Axel Springer’s approach smacks of censorship.

In a blog titled “Smells like censorship, Big Brother posted on October 23, AdBlock Plus comms and operations manager Ben Williams said the publisher asked it to remove content posts created by one of its independent moderators of its open forum, in which users discuss how to get around the wall by using a filter. Digiday can’t link to the posts because they have now been removed.

Williams said Axel Springer asked AdBlock Plus to remove the posts. When it refused to, Adblock Plus was served with court papers ordering it to remove them.

“We do not want to do this, we do not like that we have to do this and we will continue to fight in a legal way to make sure that these posts get back up where they belong: on the free and open Internet … where, last time I checked, this kind of stuff isn’t allowed,” Williams wrote.

The two companies have a checkered history. Axel Springer unsuccessfully sued AdBlock Plus in Cologne where the court ruled ad blocking was legal.

Digiday asked Williams for clarification but not heard back yet.

Some 200 million people used ad blockers last year, resulting in $22 billion in lost advertising revenue, according to a study by Adobe and Irish anti ad-blocking technology start-up PageFair.

But tensions in Germany are particularly high because more than 30 percent of people use ad-blocking software, the highest in Europe, according to PageFair.

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