Rogers Back To Inserting Its Messages Onto Others' Websites

from the creepy-intrusions dept

Back in 2007, we wrote about how Canadian ISP Rogers was inserting its own content into certain webpages, such as Google’s. The company was basically putting messages at the top to let people know they were using up their metered bandwidth limit. While it’s nice that they were trying to better inform users, the methods were highly questionable — injecting content into someone else’s website just seemed creepy and intrusive. Rogers backed down… however, Michael Geist is reporting that some people have started seeing the notifications injected into their surfing yet again. In this case, it’s not about bandwidth metering, but about parental controls. Either way, it seems bad. I’m sure Rogers wants better ways to communicate with customers, but shoving messages into the webpage they’re surfing just seems excessive.

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Comments on “Rogers Back To Inserting Its Messages Onto Others' Websites”

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24 Comments
Hulser (profile) says:

Never attribute to malice...

I agree that this behavior is inappropriate, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the cause has more to do with cluelessness than anything nefarious. Looking at the screenshot of the message, it is clearly labeled as a message from Rogers. Plus, the message apparently pertains to a service to which the user is already subscribing.

Other than its location inside of another web page, I’d liken it to an e-mail that my anti-virus subscription is about to run out or a dialog box that there’s a new update available for the program I just started.

Cap'n Jack (profile) says:

I’m all for protecting one’s privacy, but I can’t imagine why someone would feel uncomfortable about this. It seems like the same sort of people who would get upset about Google StreetView.

This is just not a big deal. It might feel “big brother” but it’s just a common courtesy for people who have no idea how to check their own bandwidth. If it really creeps someone out, Rogers should just add an option to opt-out.

It just seems to me like lots of people are always misjudging what is a privacy concern and what isn’t.

Aaron Von Gauss (profile) says:

Derivative Work

I know Rogers serves Canada, but wouldn’t this raise questions regarding derivative works?

As for why people would be annoyed? In my case, I am paying for a service not a service supported by ads, internal ads or other propaganda. Would you want your telephone company interrupting one of your calls to announce a feature of their product?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Derivative Work

As the someone else said an “opt-out” would be best. If I were reaching my limit on my cell phone, it would be great to receive an SMS that I’m almost at my limit but they’d rather me go over my minutes and pay for it.

If I had metered home service it would be a bit intrusive if I’m in a conversation but again if it was an announcement before it connected saying I was at my limit and an option not to hear it again, I’d be fine with it.

I’m still confused on how this is creepy or big brother like? I laughed at the story. Why not ask ISPs to stop collecting data on what we’re doing, that’s a lot worse than just posting an informational message.

I am starting to think Techdirt is becoming paranoid or a tabloid.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t see a problem with it – provided it is for something that is significant to the user (as it is in this case). The user is subscribed to the service, which will expire soon. I wouldn’t consider this any different from checking my voice mail and having the first message be “oh by the way, your late on your payment for your phone”. It seems like a natural use of technology to reach the user.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let me also say this:

“Rogers Back To Inserting Its Messages Onto Others’ Websites”

This headline is rather misleading, it makes it sound at first glance like they might be editing content or doing ad replacements – they are doing neither.

I smell another link to “ISP abusing users by sticking it’s messages into web pages on the fly” or something like that in a future installment of “Mikey’s world”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That is precisely what they are doing and I would stand by Mike’s headline. This is very abusive restructuring of the page elements which is probably unpredictable and frequently injected. The fact that they are placing it on the top of the page (for now) does not absolve them from the fact that they are injecting content into another site’s page structure… they are editing other site’s pages!

Besides the serious annoyance that must be, it is also complete incompetence on Roger’s side. This could easily be done with a browser plugin, a thickbox style ‘in page’ popup, either of which would be far less intrusive because it would not actually CHANGE the page rendering.

pk (profile) says:

my 2 cents as a Rogers customer

It seems that this is simply a much easier way for Rogers to get this information out there. I don’t particularly like it but there are bigger problems with Rogers than notification sent by hijacking http traffic.

They unilaterally imposed bandwidth caps, imposed throttling traffic, have absolutely crap tech support, are known for creative billing mistakes, etc. As much as http: hijacking is a net neutrality issue, I’d be willing to live with them in exchange for a decent cap (not 60GB)

Robb Topolski (profile) says:

So how are they doing this?

This has to be some kind of DPI-based fakery. Some piece of Roger’s gear is answering as if it were the destination website and either inserting HTML code or HTTP response codes to make this work.

ISPs must stay out of the content stream, DPI should be used to investigate problems and for lawful intercept — not to push the ISP’s services, regardless of how useful.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think it’s odd that everyone is debating the content of the message. I find it unacceptable simply because they basically pulled a man in the middle attack. I think we should be able to have a high level of certainty that the page being sent from the web server is the same page that our browsers receive from our provider.

Anonymous Coward says:

I USED to be a Rogers customer… but their practices in business are very much consumer UNfriendly!

They have traffic shaping algorithms that they are proud to say are the most sophisticated in the world. They have (and use) the ability to trap any traffic (or content) that travels over their pipe, and rework it for their own means.

In my opinion Rogers as a company should be viewed by the public as a virus!

Ben says:

Being a Rogers customer (although not a fan) I’ve seen these messages in action. The notifications were one of the few decent things Rogers did for their customers. It wasn’t at all nefarious or malicious. You simply received a banner at the top of a web page once you reached certain milestones in your bandwidth usage. They appeared once and were gone. The technology used to insert the banners could be used for more annoying, intrusive or worrying purposes but the same could be said for most other technologies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Being a Rogers customer (although not a fan) I’ve seen these messages in action. The notifications were one of the few decent things Rogers did for their customers. It wasn’t at all nefarious or malicious. You simply received a banner at the top of a web page once you reached certain milestones in your bandwidth usage. They appeared once and were gone. The technology used to insert the banners could be used for more annoying, intrusive or worrying purposes but the same could be said for most other technologies.”

That’s not the point. It’s that they think it’s okay to meddle with web pages coming through their pipes. It’s not. Leave it the fuck alone. What else might they be meddling with? We just don’t know, and that’s a serious problem.

If I ever see something like from my ISP that on a page, I’ll pick up the phone and cancel service faster that you can say… um, “don’t cancel service bro.”

john S says:

I’ve gotten this message plenty of times, and i think its a wonderfully usefull notice.

“That’s not the point. It’s that they think it’s okay to meddle with web pages coming through their pipes. It’s not. Leave it the fuck alone. What else might they be meddling with? We just don’t know, and that’s a serious problem.”

– And what makes you think that they arent doing anything to webpages that you CAN’T see? Just because they’re basically putting a popup on your PC saying, your almost at your DL cap. Maybe they should call you instead, twist your ear about it.

Seriously its not that big a deal when you compare something like this to alot of thier other insane practices.

mklinker says:

Re: Re:

This is the same old thinking, if you have nothing to hide, what’s the problem. Totally crazy thinking to me. By you’re logic, because they’re already screwing with us and altering other pages, it’s alright that they go ahead and alter this one right in front of you.

Just out of curiousity, what would it take for you to actually stand up?

David Muir (profile) says:

Thank you for choosing Rogers

The tech support and billing people sign off with “Thank you for choosing Rogers”. It drives my wife and I crazy because we DID NOT CHOOSE Rogers. They bought our old (excellent) ISP and suddenly we have bandwidth caps, throttling, 404 replacement pages, and this “message insertion” stuff. While this particular practice may not be the worst of what they do… they are clearly not an ISP I would have “chosen” if I really had a choice. Before Rogers became my ISP, I barely paid attention to the Net Neutrality activism in Canada… now I am a huge Michael Geist fan and I’m agitating for more CRTC oversight of the big ISPs.

Jughead (Unhappy Rogers Hostage) says:

Re: Thank you for choosing Rogers

I refused to pay the DL overage until Rogers threatened to disconnect (Toronto). Caps are NOT mentioned in the CONTRACT which Rogers ignores, claiming improvement costs while cutting services such as briefcase. Writing the Competition Bureau to investigate gouging since there are no other cable providers in TO. (Note:DSN is NOT a competitor since it is 1/4 the speed at best). Rogers are thieves. According to CRTC the cost to deliver cable service (urban) is $7. per month.
Rogers does not honour contracts,nor honour its promise to be honest (oath taken by executives eg. CFO and CEO)Please call or write your MPP and Competition Bureau as well as the CRTC and request an investigation into unfair competition via throttling and traffic shaping by Rogers as well as gouging.

Jughead

Anonymous_1 says:

There’s this new thing for messaging on the Internet.
It’s called e-mail. Of course, there are those who would claim the message would get ignored, etc., but that isn’t the responsibility of the ISP. OTOH, as long as bandwith, and or readability isn’t directly affected, I’m not so opposed to this. Mike seems to be opposed due to some technical issue on how the message is inserted, which I am not so sure of. Meh.

@David Muir: “The tech support and billing people sign off with “Thank you for choosing Rogers”. It drives my wife and I crazy because we DID NOT CHOOSE Rogers. They bought our old (excellent) ISP”

Actually by default (you chose to keep the service) you DID choose Rogers. What you meant is as you state, that given alternatives, you would like to see better service. Your statement is just funny however, as by the dictionary definition it is a choice. Even though I am state side I agree with you that ISPs need to be watched. So bottom line, while big coroporations can be blind to their customers needs, and make decisions based on greed. In this case, the ISP isn’t doing the worst thing it can do, just not the most efficient (e-mail), IMHO.

Anonymous Coward says:

the really sad part is you DON’T Choose Rogers, we only have a VERY small choice if ISP’s here ( rogers & bell )and a couple resellers , thats all … so it’s not a choice. The other Really sad thing is caps, 120gb’s on rogers , 100gb’s on bell . and then the throttling … it’s just un human what these ISP get away with , like being bent over a barrel and taking it up the ***!

Tom (Another Rogers HOSTAGE) says:

Rogers inserting banner (can I block this banner?)

I will not click on the “I aknowledge receipt of this message” bullshit, providing Rogers with my OK that they can extra bill my account. How can this ISBN inserted banner be blocked. There must be a way using software since it is software that creates it.

Tom

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