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France orders Internet provider to stop blocking Google ads

After a Web provider updated its software to block the search giant's ads, the French government says, "This kind of blocking is inconsistent with a free and open Internet."

France, unlike the U.S., has had relaxed rules on whether Internet service providers can block online content -- until today that is.

The French government has ruled that one of the country's biggest Web providers, Free, must halt all online ad blocking, according to the New York Times.

"An Internet service provider cannot unilaterally implement such blocking," the French minister for the digital economy Fleur Pellerin said at a news conference, according to the Times. "This kind of blocking is inconsistent with a free and open Internet, to which I am very attached."

The kerfuffle began last week when Free updated its Internet access software, which in turn blocked Google ads, according to the New York Times. Apparently, the company has made no secret of its annoyance that it doesn't get any compensation from carrying large amounts of ad-heavy traffic from Google-owned sites.

Pellerin has now persuaded Free to restore full access to all content on the Web, including Google ads.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has rules that say Internet service providers must not block online content since it can hinder net neutrality. Europe's guidelines are far more lax. However, the French government's decision today may be a sign that those loose guidelines could soon become a thing of the past.