Announced at WWDC as a part of iOS 9, Apple revealed the new "Content Blocking Safari Extensions". If you're unsure of why you would want to do this, look no further than the image example that Apple uses:
Essentially this would allow built-in ad blocking within Mobile Safari on iOS for the first time. And as, you would expect, all the usual suspects are screaming bloody murder about this new feature:
The potential impact of “Content Blocking Safari Extensions” even goes beyond blocked ads. Apple is explicitly allowing the blocking of cookies on a site-by-site basis. For example, you could build an extension that blocked the cookies that allow a newspaper paywall to work. The Yourtown Times allows you 10 stories free a month? It’s probably using a cookie to keep track of that count. Block that cookie and the paywall comes tumbling down — you’re a fresh visitor every time. Imagine being able to download an extension that blocked paywall cookies on the top 50 paid news sites. It wouldn’t even be particularly hard to code; unless Apple chooses to prevent it, someone will do it. News sites would be able to build workarounds — changing cookie IDs regularly, requiring user login from article 1 — but winning that sort of cat-and-mouse game is something publishers are unlikely to be good at.
Why would Apple do this?
An Apple partisan might argue it just wants to give users control of their iPhone experience, and having debuted extensions in the last version of iOS, allowing them to alter web content is a natural next step.
Apple partisan? Clearly you get an idea of where this guy's bread is buttered from. Partisan? How about any normal, rational, sane person.
A friend of mine, Brian Vargas, tweeted this today:
Maybe I wouldn’t be so happy for built-in ad blocking on a mobile Safari if publishers weren’t such dicks with their ads.— Brian Vargas (@Ardvaark) June 12, 2015
I'm sympathetic to those who use advertising to earn their living. Sites like Daring Fireball, The Loop, or Six Colors that use limited, tasteful, audience relevant ads that aren't user and content hostile -- those are great. I specifically set my AdBlock software on my desktop to not run when visiting their domains.
But when I don't run AdBlock software, my typical browsing experience looks something like this:
The user cannot even see the first line of the article for all of the ads they have to scroll through first. Why do they even bother laying our or designing their web pages? Why not just display 2 or 3 ads first to make you scroll through before you arrive at the headline and article? The effect would be the same.
That publishers allow their content to be prostituted to this atrociously vile degree completely washes away any guilt I have about using AdBlock software on their sites. If they continue to treat my time and attention wish such distain and disrespect, I'll continue to care about them not being able to show me ads in the same way.