Mobile phone networks are considering installing ad-blocking software on their servers to force Google and others to share some of its ad revenue with them.
The move is thought to be under consideration by a number of mobile phone operators across the continent who are unhappy at the perceived injustice of companies like Google, Yahoo and AOL earning huge amounts of ad revenue on the back of their infrastructure.
Speaking to the Financial Times, one employee of a European wireless carrier said the plan was to install the software on its servers before the end of 2015, which would mean that most ads would no longer appear on webpages or in apps on customers's smartphones or tablets - which would be a dramatic and potentially dangerous move by the operator.
The executive from the European network said several of its peers were planning such a move before the end of the year as an opt-in service for customers but there is also a much more radical proposal on the tablet, dubbed "the bomb".
This, according to the executive, would see the ad-blocking software applied across its entire network of millions of smartphone users in one go with Google seen as a specific target.
The goal is to get Google and other digital media companies to at least start talking to the network providers about sharing some of the huge ad revenues the companies are earning from mobile – a total set to reach $69bn in 2015 according to eMarketer.
This is a highly risky strategy and one which is likely to anger and provoke a backlash from Google. The search giant's response was to point out that the networks make a lot of money by charging their customers to access the internet on their phones:
"People pay for mobile internet packages so they can access the apps, video streaming, webmail and other services they love, many of which are funded by ads. Google and other web companies invest heavily in developing these services — and in the behind-the-scenes infrastructure to deliver them."
The ad-blocking technology, which has been developed by Israeli startup Shine, will block ads from appearing on webpages when viewed on a smartphone as well as certain in-app ads. It does does not however affect ads appearing in Twitter and Facebook feeds.