YouTube finds itself accused of outright criminality overseas as its controversial ad-blocking crusade spurs potential indictments for illegal computer surveillance. A formal criminal complaint filed in Ireland alleges the video giant’s browser monitoring tactics violate strict EU privacy regulations guarding against unauthorized tracking.
The fresh salvo originates from noted data rights consultant Alexander Hanff, who charges YouTube deploys invasive “spyware” trawling devices for digital clues hinting users avoid ads. Specifically, Hanff claims embedded telemetry scripts spy on web activity in a blurred distinction from malware or other notorious snooping tools.
And under notoriously rigid EU e-privacy statutes, such monitoring arguably requires explicit opt-in consent absent for most YouTube viewers. Hence the startling allegation tracking behavior to surface ad blockers constitutes outright abuse equating to a jailable offense in some jurisdictions.
Hanff accordingly petitioned Irish police to open formal criminal probes against Google to determine whether deceptive design sidesteps informed approval while invading EU hardware. He further argues YouTube essentially strongarms acquiescence to surveillance that should mandate choice given financial conflicts motivating the scheming.
The explosive complaint comes as YouTube suffers customer revolts over newly imposed restrictions blocking viewers relying on ad filters. Critics globally assail the hardline stance when even site efficiency arguments falter under scrutiny.
Of course formal charges remain speculative pending Irish authorities’ own interpretation. But with EU regulators historically quick to bare teeth against suspected privacy incursions, the ad-blocking debacle potentially represents an exceptional overreach shattering assumed protections for Google and tech giants at large. If convicted over such callous tracking for revenue stakes, one wonders what undiscovered monitoring still resides across Google’s far reaching services.