An ad-block shock – France v Google: Xavier Niel is playing rough with the internet giant

In 2011 Google spent over €100m ($130m) on grand 19th-century digs in Paris which look a little like the Elysée Palace, the official home of the president. That may have been a mistake. The firm’s deep coffers have now attracted the attention of Xavier Niel, an entrepreneur who delights in making pots of money at the expense of the establishment.On January 3rd Mr Niel’s company, Free, which is France’s second-biggest internet-service provider (ISP), upgraded the software on the modems it supplies to customers. Online ads were blocked by default. The move, which was aimed chiefly at Google, caused a massive rumpus.

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