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Trai plans to act against auto-play video ads on the internet

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Auto-playing video advertisements are an annoyance which we have to deal with on a daily basis. Apart from being unwanted, a lot of these video adds end up using up a lot of data without our knowledge and pushing up our data bills. Telecom regulator Trai has taken this under consideration and is planning to take action against these auto-playing video ads.

This is an issue which is prevalent across platforms, be it your smartphone or your broadband connected PC. Considering the terrible FUPs that we have to deal with, an unwanted auto-playing advertisement is the last thing one wants.


Speaking to Times of India, Trai chairman RS Sharma calling it a serious problem, said that he is concerned with the involuntary download which is consuming data from internet packs. “Trai officials are working on this, but I think we should work at a much more furious rate. We will be able to come up with some response quickly,” he said.

There is no doubt that with the increase in internet speeds, the rate of consumption has also gone up. With things such as auto-playing video advertisements, which do not require the consent of the consumer, it is the consumer who ends up paying the price. Industry analysts have long been citing unnecessary and hidden downloads behind the higher data usage.

Online survey findings

The issue of unwanted video downloads was also highlighted in a survey conducted by online mobile app Nanu which arrived at this conclusion after speaking to 14,154 mobile customers from across 23 states in India. So clearly, this is a pan-India issue.

According to the survey’s finding, there was a high possibility of consumers facing hidden data charges without their knowledge. Around 42 percent respondents were not aware that video ads consume data without you clicking on them and around 35 percent respondents had noticed and increase in their data billing without altering their usage much.

Ad-blockers: Hit or Miss

Using ad-blockers is an effective way to cut out the unwanted advertisements. According to a report in Scroll, around 122 mn people in India use some sort of ad-blocking feature to surf the internet without viewing advertisements. India is also the fastest growing markets for mobile phone adblockers according to this Pagefair report.


But off late, a lot of websites do not load if you have an ad-blocker activated. They force you to disable the ad-blocker before displaying content. A lot of the time, these video ads play with the audio muted, so there is no way for the consumer to even realise that there is a video ad playing somewhere on the current web page. Not to forget, those annoying rollover ads which not only ruin your reading experience, but also shoot up data usage.  

Facebook’s auto-playing videos

Facebook is one social media site that is quite popular among a lot of Indian users. Off late its push towards video content and now with Facebook Live activated for all iOS and Android devices, the auto-playing video content is surely going to see a spike. Facebook is also testing a new feature which allows all auto-playing videos to play back with sound turned on. While there are ways to disable auto-play, it requires active action from the users side. For a lot of users who are not aware of this, it translates into more data usage on every Facebook visit.

According to RS Sharma, Trai is making plans to speak to the various parties concerned with regards to finding a solution. Sharma hinted that if there are technological solutions to resolving the matter, then Trai will work with the concerned technology companies to bring these solutions into effect.

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