Google may be endearing itself to New Yorkers by providing free wi-fi in Chelsea, but the company’s contribution — or lack thereof — to Internet infrastructure in France is reportedly making it enemies. That’s why ISP Free earlier this year put in an ad blocker to strip out ads from Google sites and any sites accessed via Google, according to a reports in Ad Age and The Economist.
The blocker was turned off after a week, and it only worked for a fraction of Free’s users — those who were using the latest version of the Freebox ISP hardware and software. But it highlighted the challenges that may face Google in France, where at least some prominent folks, like Free founder Xavier Niel, reportedly say Google is getting benefits from being in France, but isn’t paying enough taxes. Niel is a rich and well-known entrepreneur in France.
The ad blocker tactic seems to have backfired, however, in that the public and press largely saw it as a violation of net neutrality by Free, and an affront to publishers and advertisers that make money via Google ads.
The gesture came at a time when the French government is negotiating with Google and Amazon over how much of a contribution they should make to the Internet infrastructure in France, according to the Ad Age report.