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Apple’s ‘Web Eraser’ Sparks Concerns Among UK Newspapers

British newspapers have voiced concerns about Apple’s new ad-blocking tool.

The news organizations argue that this so-called “web-eraser” threatens the financial stability of the journalism world, the Financial Times (FT) reported Sunday (May 12), citing a letter from the papers to Apple. 

The “web eraser” is part of the artificial intelligence (AI) privacy feature in Apple’s next iOS 18 software update that will remove ads or other unwanted website content, the FT said.

The letter — sent to Apple’s U.K. government affairs chief by industry group the News Media Association (NMA) — argues that professional journalism requires funding “and advertising is a key revenue stream for many publishers.”

The NMA contends that online platforms like web browsers and social networks are important for letting the public access journalism, and for publishers to “monetize their content in the digital marketplace.” 

The letter adds that “ad-blocking is a blunt instrument, which frustrates the ability of content creators to sustainably fund their work and could lead to consumers missing important information which would otherwise have been very useful to them.”

PYMNTS has reached out to Apple for comment but has not yet gotten a reply.

The NMA’s efforts come as newspapers are fighting to hold onto revenues in the face of AI advances. For example, eight newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital’s MediaNews Group sued Microsoft and OpenAI last month, alleging that the tech companies used the newspapers’ content to train their AI models. 

A lawyer for the MediaNews publications told Reuters that the tech companies “think somehow they can get away with taking content” without payment or permission.

An OpenAI spokesperson provided PYMNTS with an emailed statement saying that the company takes “great care in our products and design process to support news organizations.”

“While we were not previously aware of Alden Global Capital’s concerns, we are actively engaged in constructive partnerships and conversations with many news organizations around the world to explore opportunities, discuss any concerns and provide solutions.” 

The suit came at the same time that another news organization — Wall Street Journal and New York Post owner News Corp. — denied a report that it had formed a partnership with Google to develop content and products related to AI.