The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday ruled that it will allow companies to block ads on websites, but only if they offer customers a choice to opt out.
The FCC’s ruling, released in response to a lawsuit brought by Google, will allow websites to block websites and content with content that is “obscene, indecent, profane, vulgar, or otherwise objectionable.”
This includes pornography, child pornography, violent content, gambling, and any other material that is deemed to be “harmful, harmful to minors, or an invasion of privacy.”
The commission did not address whether the sites could still offer free content, but the commission said the companies must offer consumers the option to opt-out if they want to.
While the companies say they won’t be blocking ads, they will be able to set up “social-networking” services to allow people to share links to the blocked content.
The companies argue that allowing content to be shared by Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is the “best” way to keep content out of the reach of children and other users.
The companies argue their sites have to comply with a 2010 law requiring online companies to post content that people would find offensive.
The ruling is a big win for free speech advocates who want to protect the right to post comments on websites.
The court also ruled that blocking ads does not infringe on companies’ free speech rights, which means the FCC’s new rules will apply only to websites that are subject to federal regulation.