Apple's upcoming version of iOS will give users a simple option to block advertisements online, according to a document the company has published for its developers. According to the document, Safari will support extensions -- small programs that users can choose to download on their own -- that will block cookies, images, pop-ups and "other content," all of which are common tools in the online advertising toolbox.

The average consumer is probably pretty happy about this new feature -- ads can, of course, be annoying. And they raise privacy concerns among users, who rarely understand or even know how data are being collected from their devices and the sites they visit to build profiles for advertisers. Apple's clearly decided to make privacy a selling point for its products, as compared to ad-and-data fueled giants such as Google and Facebook. Apple chief executive Tim Cook has made clear that Apple's not in the data-collection business.

But over at Nieman Journalism Lab, Joshua Benton makes the point that this could be very bad for, well, anyone trying to make money on the Internet. It's already hard to make money on small mobile ads, and yet mobile is the way more and more people are accessing sites. That equation becomes even more difficult if you're trying to provide any content for free; free, on the Internet, basically means ad-supported.  Giving every iPhone, iPad and iPod touch user a fairly easy way to block ads erodes that even further.

(And he notes, if you're a cynic, it would be easy to see this as a way for Apple to drive news organizations to its News app.)

Companies that make money from ads have complained about ad-blockers before -- most recently and notably, Google's Larry Page said that the company is looking for ways to make better, less annoying ads to reduce consumers' desire to get rid of them.

Apple's iOS 9 will officially launch this fall, though users can sign up to use a pre-release version in July.