iOS ad blockers: concerns as Apple approves ad blocker that can block iAds and Apple News


Apple has approved an ad blocker that blocks native ads, which may include its very own Apple News.

In line with its drive to approve ad blockers along with the launching of iOS 9, the company has approved Been Choice, a content blocker designed for Safari whose main function is to provide a VPN service to block native ads, reported Digital Trends.

The VPN service utilizes deep packet inspection to filter ad traffic to enable users to use apps like Facebook, Apple News, Yahoo News, New York Times, and Pinterest without being bothered by a barrage of mobile ads.

The service also filters pre-roll videos, sponsored posts and native ads.

“While we inspect headers and the body, no user content is stored, and our filtering is done on the fly. This approach may be more familiar in its corporate form. For example, companies use deep packet inspection on their managed devices to ensure that sensitive information never leaves internal corporate networks,” explains Dave Yoon, co founder of Been Choice.

Many pundits have been questioning the approval of the app as it offers the option for users to block content but also pushes the sharing of data from one’s device by monetizing it through PayPal credits or Amazon gift cards.

The app has a feature called Earn Mode wherein users can gain rewards by enabling the VPN to pull information such as device information, carrier and network information, device IDs, apps and data usage and other types of information.

“We think if you have consent from the user, and share economics with the user, you can gather better data. But the key question is consent,” Yoon said.

While Been Choice maintains that the Earn mode requires consent in order to share information about the user and the device, tech writers like Tech Crunch’s Sarah Perez has expressed some reservations around how much of the data is being shared with the marketing partners and whether users have actually read terms and conditions that usually get ignored.

Digital Trend’s tech analyst David Curry also questioned why Apple approved the app in the first place, since it can block ads from Apple News and other apps that use iAds.

“This could be detrimental to publishers that invested time to build clean templates for Apple News, only to have their revenue cut off,” he said.