Growing Number Of ISPs Injecting Own Content Into Websites

from the this-is-not-a-good-trend dept

With growing concerns over companies like Phorm and NebuAd enabling ISPs to insert their own ads into your web surfing, some researchers decided to see if this is already happening -- and were surprised to find it more prevalent than they expected. It's still not a huge number, but in tests, they found that there definitely are some ISPs already using such technology to inject ads, though they tend to be smaller "no name" ISPs. The one big exception was XO Communications -- though XO claims that any ad injections must be done by downstream resellers of its wholesale service. Either way, this ought to raise some questions about what rights ISPs have to get in the middle and alter the data that you requested and which was served by a third party.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    mike allen, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 12:49am

    mike

    mike there used to be ads to the right of your blog ive not seen them last few days mmmmmmm i wonder time to sue ISP.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    mike allen, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 12:49am

    mike

    mike there used to be ads to the right of your blog ive not seen them last few days mmmmmmm i wonder time to sue ISP.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    John, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 12:59am

    Insert Your Ad Here

    I'm thinking that there is probably {Drink Ovaltine} some copyright concerns here if there are {Have you driven a Ford lately?} changes being made in transit to copyrighted material. Neither the creator nor the consumer is consenting {Head On. Applied directly to the forehead} to the changes.

     

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  4.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 2:13am

    Solution:

    HTTPS.

    Flash would also work but this isn't the story to rehash all the reasons why Flash is ass.

    It might be possible to script a two-way communication which returns the page source to the site after a page has loaded and if it doesn't match with what was sent, force the user over to an HTTPS connection and splash an explanation that the ISP is interfering with the transmission.

    Legally you might be able to fight it with restraint of trade if you can show they're either replacing your ads or unfairly competing (especially if your ad contract includes exclusive sponsorship), but it would be easier to go for the jugular and demand they lose their common carrier status since they're no longer simply a conduit between two points.

     

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  5.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 2:16am

    Re: Solution: -- D'oh!

    Not two minutes after hitting post I find the SCOTUS ruling which upheld the FCC's determination that ISPs are not common carriers.

     

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  6.  
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    Twinrova, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 3:43am

    Why is this a surprise to you, Mike?

    It's called the extra stream of revenue. Much like cable companies displaying ads on the on-screen menu.

    But hey, so long as the content is free, right?

     

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  7.  
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    Vincent Clement, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 4:26am

    Re: Why is this a surprise to you, Mike?

    There is no similarity between a cable company displaying ads on the on-screen menu and an ISP injecting their own ads into content you requested.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 4:27am

    This goes directly to the concept of net neutrality and ISB like telephone companies not being responsible for the information transmitted across their network.

    If as one should suspect a US Federal court finds that because of traffic shaping and content altercation that the ISP are responsible for any and all piracy and child porn which flows through their network then things are going to get real interesting.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 5:08am

    Adblock anyone?

    Does "Adblock" work effectively on the injected ads, as well as it does on the "regular" ads? If so, the bwhahahahahahaha. If not, I foresee an update to Adblock! Good on us Firefox users.

     

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  10.  
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    whatever, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 6:26am

    host file

    Just put all the major ad sites into your hosts file with 127.0.0.1 redirct

    C:WINDOWSSYSTEM32DRIVERSETCHOSTS

    Like for techdirt ads one is 127.0.0.1 static.fmpub.net

    No more annoying techdirt flash ad crap.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 6:44am

    I haven't seen an ad in years thanks to Opera and Kaspersky IIS. But if I was a web designer I'd be pretty pissed to know someone was modifying my internet real estate without my permission. Technically, the ISP are making a dime off of someone else's propriety. I can't just walk over to my neighbor's yard and start hanging banners off his house, I'd get sued!

    Ad agencies are quickly becoming a nemesis on the Internet. We are losing our privacy because of deals between the ISPs and ad companies and now we are losing the right to deliver exclusive content on our sites, because of that same agreement.

     

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  12.  
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    proxy318, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:32am

    hmm

    This is basically equivalent to the phone company breaking into your phone calls every few minutes with ads. You pay for your internet connection, and that comes with an expectation of a certain level of service. You expect that you'll be connected to webpages as the companies that built them intended. I would argue that they are providing a modified internet experience, which isn't what you're paying for. Of course this all depends on the ISP's terms of servicek, but I kind of doubt it includes any clauses stating they can force extra ads on you.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 7:34am

    Mike,

    Why isn't Techdirt serving up its pages over SSL yet?

    Quit bitching: Time to fight.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Twinrova, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Why is this a surprise to you, Mike?

    "There is no similarity between a cable company displaying ads on the on-screen menu and an ISP injecting their own ads into content you requested."
    You're kidding, right?

    Both are services you pay for.

    Both are injecting ads into content you request.

    The only difference here is one is targeted, the other is not (yet).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    Re: hmm

    This is basically equivalent to the phone company breaking into your phone calls every few minutes with ads.

    It's worse than that. It's more like the phone company letting telemarketers listen in on and break into your calls with "some really great targeted offers at just the right moment". And then the phone company trying to justify it by saying "It's all OK because we give them the calls anonymously; We don't give them your actual name."

     

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  16.  
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    Turdburglar, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 10:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why is this a surprise to you, Mike?

    > You're kidding, right? > > Both are services you pay for. > > Both are injecting ads into content you request. There is a huge difference between website content and TV content. If I am monetizing my website via advertising, and some ISP decides to insert their own ads, then they damn well better compensate me or there will be hell to pay.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 5:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why is this a surprise to you, Mike?

    If I am monetizing my website via advertising, and some ISP decides to insert their own ads, then they damn well better compensate me or there will be hell to pay.
    Well, that's what they're doing. So what are you going to do about it?

     

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  18.  
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    Tack Furlo, Apr 21st, 2008 @ 12:21pm

    In all fairness

    I run adblock, privoxy, and the MVPS HOSTS file. I haven't seen any ad for anything in a long, long time. Yet, on rare occasion I will fire up OffByOne (a web browser that does not support javascript and that I don't route through Privoxy) and click an ad on a site (slashdot, techdirt, and engadget, the main 3 I read, mostly) just to support them. I never, ever buy whatever they're selling, but at least I help their clickthrough numbers. Techdirt does not run its web servers on thin air so though the ads annoy me - badly - I am willing to help out these sites so long as it doesn't cost me money to do so. To all of you fellow readers, keep in mind: Techdirt and/or most sites stay afloat with these ads. If you don't wan to see them, fine, but help out Techdirt even if you won't help their sponsors. Else they won't live for you to flame them another day ;)

     

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