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ISPs Inserting Ads Into Your Pages

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the now-thats-just-slimey dept.

Your Rights Online 434

TheWoozle writes "Some ISPs are resorting to a new tactic to increase revenue: inserting advertisements into web pages requested by their end users. They use a transparent web proxy (such as this one) to insert javascript and/or HTML with the ads into pages returned to users. Neither the content providers nor the end-users have been notified that this is taking place, and I'm sure that they weren't asked for permission either."

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Suprise! (5, Funny)

dotHectate (975458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619207)

It's not like we pay them for our internet access or anything.

Oh wait, we do... crap.

Re:Suprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619231)

Reminds me of how back when cable TV started up the idea is that you were paying for more channels and you wouldn't have to deal with ads. Looks like some things never change.

Re:Suprise! (5, Insightful)

tha_mink (518151) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619403)

Reminds me of how back when cable TV started up the idea is that you were paying for more channels and you wouldn't have to deal with ads. Looks like some things never change.


Actually, I'm more pissed as a content provider then I am as a consumer. How dare they! If I wanted advertising on my content, I'd put it there, and get paid for it. For me, this is totally stealing from content providers and not just annoying to consumers. I mean, isn't that like making money off of other peoples content? Wouldn't that be more like a telephone company forcing you to listen to an add before you place or receive a call? Imagine....

Phone rings and you pick up....

(You) - Hello? (Automated Hell) - Hello, this is A-T-And T, we have a call for you, but first, we'd like you to enjoy a message from our sponsors...
(You) - Click!

Fuck that! Stealing content...bullshit.

Re:Suprise! (5, Interesting)

OnlineAlias (828288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619515)

I am pissed that they are even addressing my http stream through proxy. Technically, that is eavesdropping my session. Not to mention that just looking for the place to insert the ad will most certainly screw up many web applications. Once an ISP crosses this line there is no limit on what they can do. Things like feeding you a bogus SSL cert while making it appear perfectly legit and decrypting your traffic, redirecting entire web sites, blocking content without your knowledge...it goes on and on. The ISP even having this information in their logs starts a huge slippery slope.

Everyone, immediately call a lawyer and run away from any ISP that does this. You have been warned.

Re:Suprise! (1, Informative)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619685)

The ISP even having this information in their logs starts a huge slippery slope.

Clearly you're not familiar with CALEA. They not only log your traffic, they store all the packets so the courts can request them later.

Re:Suprise! (1)

Johnno74 (252399) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619729)

Things like feeding you a bogus SSL cert while making it appear perfectly legit and decrypting your traffic,

Fortunately they can't do that without your browser screaming the name on the cert doesn't match the hostname.

Of course, a large % of clueless users will ignore the strongly worded warning and click ok.

Only way they could do that is if they had their own trusted root certification authority - then they could make up a new cert for the website you asked for on the fly, and your browser would trust it.

I beleive in china you must have a root cert the govt has issued in your root certs store. That would let them evesdrop on HTTPs sessions without triggering any obvious alerts on the client site (although if you checked the certification path you could see that the site's cert was issued by the chinese govt, not verisign or similar)

Re:Suprise! (2, Interesting)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619767)

I'm pretty sure, SSL was created *especially* to combat man-in-the-middle attacks. Inserting data in http streams at ISP level is no different than intercepting packets at TCP level and crafting some forgery in them.

I don't think you can use bogus SSL certs, IF you already use your own.

So my first and only advice to this "crisis" is

--> Use SSL-only web hosting for even the most basic set of pages. ---

With SSL-encrypted traffic no other node or ISP can ever know what's inside your packets and can therefore not eavesdrop on your connection or place ads inside.

I'm very glad some ISPs are dumb enough to start this crap, because now everyone will learn the semi-hard way how the internet is working, what makes it vulnerable and why encryption can be beneficial for everyone. When ISPs are dumb enough to drive the masses to SSL-encrypted everything, the/a/our snoopy government is severely hampered.

All we need is one for-free certification authority and everyone can use a public SSL cert to lock out any and all intruders with less than 10-percent-NSA computing power devoted to them.

Maybe we even get the second part of SSL, the client certificates off the ground.

Re:Suprise! (1)

insignificant_wrangl (1060444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619521)

That's a great point and a great comparison. Wish I had mod points.

Re:Suprise! (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619733)

Jesus Christ, don't give them any more ideas!!

Re:Suprise! (3, Interesting)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619777)

Funny, I was under the impression that there was a lawsuit about some Microsoft technology that added links to other content providers' pages that argued that the practice was a violation of copyright (because by altering your content, they are in effect creating their own derivative work without your permissions). Couldn't you just slap them with a DMCA takedown notice?

Re:Suprise! (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619235)

It's not like we pay them for our internet access or anything.
...or that we pay to see the show at the movie theater. I know, not exactly the same thing, but tv advertisements on the big screen are becoming quite annoying as well.

Re:Suprise! (1)

dewke (44893) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619621)

Yeah the ads at the movie theatre *are* annoying, but they can be avoided if you show up closer to the show time, and it's not like they interrupt the movie to run an ad. At least they haven't started to do that yet.

And hey greg, long time!

Re:Suprise! (1, Insightful)

gravos (912628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619247)

It seems to be more and more common to see games in PC and console games, even though those are paid for by the consumer too... This is not an isolated trend.

Re:Suprise! (4, Funny)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619551)

It seems to be more and more common to see games in PC and console games
I'd be asking for a refund if this weren't the case!

Re:Suprise! (5, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619249)

I thought my ISP was doing this but when I called to complain the helpful tech support person told me that the sites I was visiting must have added new ads to them, since they would never do such a thing. Thanks for reassuring me, John!

So, slashdot, why are you running 50 ads at the top of every page? I thought when I subscribed I wouldn't have to see these anymore, but since you don't have a friendly guy I can call to talk to about it, I'll have to assume you're trying to screw me over here.

Re:Suprise! (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619591)

I thought when I subscribed I wouldn't have to see these anymore, but since you don't have a friendly guy I can call to talk to about it, I'll have to assume you're trying to screw me over here.

Or maybe, as shown by the lack of "*" or whatever by your user name, maybe your subscription expired?

Re:Suprise! (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619653)

So, slashdot, why are you running 50 ads at the top of every page?

What ads? I don't see any. That's what Adblock is for.

Re:Suprise! (5, Funny)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619357)

Don't worry! Your Free Market(tm) will take care of this! You can always chose not to have internet, or lay your own fiber! Completely realistic options. It's not my fault you can't afford that. You should have started an ISP just like everyone else!

Absolutely insightfull.. (2, Insightful)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619771)

and I am not joking. Since it is often said that we should not worry about net neutrality issues at all and that "free market" and competition will take care of any issues.

2nd level firehose? (-1, Flamebait)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619223)

Is it just me, or is it time to institute a "2nd level" of the firehose to weed out shit like this (and the article posted before this) that somehow manages to get through?

Re:2nd level firehose? (1, Offtopic)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619243)

I thought that as I read the linked articles.

How did a crap story like this get onto the front page of slashdot?

Re:2nd level firehose? (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619275)

Slow news day.

Re:2nd level firehose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619361)

Poor editing day! Oh wait, that is every day, now.

Re:2nd level firehose? (1)

g0dsp33d (849253) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619571)

Eh, it beats the at least 3 articles I've seen this week about the issue with videotaping a cop in PA.

This proxy thing has been used before (0, Redundant)

gravos (912628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619225)

Back in the days of 56k modems some ISPs used to use proxies to make images smaller so sites would appear to download faster. This is a much more despicable use. I leave ads on so I can support the sites that I like, but I would be outraged if it turned out the ads were actually coming from my ISP who I was already paying.

What about code validation? (5, Interesting)

throup (325558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619229)

I know this won't be everyone's primary concern, but what happens to all of those pages carefully crafted to adhere to a specific standard eg HTML 4.01, XHTML 1.1 or whatever else you may choose? Surely, unless these uninvited contributions also adhere to that specific standard, we have no hope of producing standards-compliant documents.

Re:What about code validation? (3, Interesting)

dascandy (869781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619259)

Turn that around and you could sue them for "destruction of property" for wrecking your pages, "violation of contract" for not giving you webhosting or something similar.

Re:What about code validation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619295)

Anything served as application/xhtml+xml would cause a parse error (in any decent browser) unless they also change the content type header. My guess would be that they only target text/html, then again it's apparent that the perps are rather stupid.

Re:What about code validation? (1)

websitebroke (996163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619473)

I was recently working on a site with heavy amounts of JavaScript that calculated a price for something as you clicked on the various options. Rsynced it from my development server to the actual host, and these mysterious errors appeared out of nowhere. A bunch of connections to Yahoo. It went away just as mysteriously a few days later. In the mean time, it was breaking my code because of the previous parse errors on these mysterious scripts.

Re:What about code validation? (1)

insignificant_wrangl (1060444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619609)

I webmaster for an academic non-profit group using Yahoo. When I checked the standards-compliance the other day, I was surprised to find a number of errors. I found this at the end of my source code:

geovisit();

Has anyone else ever had an experience like this with Yahoo? The code doesn't appear in my files if I download them, so this is something going on server side.

Re:What about code validation? (1)

insignificant_wrangl (1060444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619629)

D'oh. I should have previewed. Here's the website [levinas-society.org] . I would really appreciate any help people can offer. Thanks.

Re:What about code validation? (4, Interesting)

Jamu (852752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619619)

I had that with my old ISP (Virgin.net). I wrote a simple webpage in HTML 4.01, checked it was valid with W3C's Markup Validation Service, and then uploaded it. When I checked it there was script just after the html element but before the head. Not what I wanted to see on a page that not only asserted I knew something about writing HTML, but also had the W3C validation link at the bottom.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
<html><s cript src="http://www.virgin.net/js/random_ad.js" language="javascript"></script>
<!-- Document is valid. However, Virgin.net inserts a <script> element here -->
<head>
<...

On the one hand... (3, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619251)

On the one hand I'd be really annoyed* if my ISP did this to me, on the other hand maybe there are some people who wold prefer ads and a cheaper monthly fee?

And on the third hand... isn't this going to break a whole bunch of websites? I'm having a hard time imagining how they could do it without major side effects.

(* I'd be wanting to stuff a few ads up their HTTP stream, I can tell you)

Re:On the one hand... (4, Funny)

Dutch_Cap (532453) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619303)

And on the third hand... isn't this going to break a whole bunch of websites? I'm having a hard time imagining how they could do it without major side effects.

Don't worry, I'm sure it's been thoroughly tested with Internet Explorer.

Re:On the one hand... (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619381)

Outfits like Netzero notwithstanding, there is just about no way that an ISP would be making enough money off of ad insertion to justify a reduced cost for end-users. Even if they were, your average ISP would be much happier simply pocketing the difference to begin with.

Re:On the one hand... (5, Insightful)

bruns (75399) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619483)

From my experience (I've worked at and built enough ISPs) that even if they find a way to potentially reduce the customers cost per month (ie: through ads), they won't pass the savings to the customer - ever.

Why? Profit. It's a great motive.

Re:On the one hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619695)

And on the third hand...

You mean the gripping hand?

Please turn in your pocket protector as you leave.

I've seen this at least a year ago (3, Interesting)

wtanaka (13113) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619269)

http://wtanaka.com/node/62 [wtanaka.com]

It was especially annoying when the ad insertion code didn't quite work right and caused web pages to break.

I've known about this for a while... (5, Informative)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619273)

When I worked at the helpdesk of a small ISP [dowco.com] , we were approached by this company [adzilla.com] to see if we were interested in letting them test their ad-inserting proxy server on our customers. I protested that it was scummy and might lead to legal trouble (I was guessing) over changing pages in-flight, but my bosses didn't listen. That was back in 2002 or 2003, and I left shortly after to take another job. No idea what's going on there now.

I'm moving to a new ISP [uniserve.com] since my current one [www.shaw.ca] has started blocking port 25 in and out. I run my own mail server, so I appreciate that Uniserve's TOS [uniserve.com] explicitly allow servers (clause #19). However, they also explicitly say that they insert ads:

65. UNISERVE shall have the right, without notice, to insert advertising data into the Internet browser used by a UNSERVE customer, and transferred to a UNISERVE customer over UNISERVE's network, so long as this does not involve UNISERVE establishing the identity of the customer to whom such data is sent.

Needless to say I'm not happy about that, but in Vancouver my choices are limited: Telus (who'll censor web pages [thetyee.ca] if they belong to a union striking against them), Shaw, or a handful of small ADSL ISPs that all seem to be much the same. Uniserve seems the best of a bad bunch.

Re:I've known about this for a while... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619365)

> I'm moving to a new ISP since my current one has started blocking port 25 in and out.

Good! I thought I hadn't seen so many zombies from shaw cable in my maillog recently. If you want to run a mail server, get a business class package. Yes it sucks and no it's not how things should be but thanks to a dedicated criminal minority, it's the way they are.

Re:I've known about this for a while... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619409)

You got lots of choices.

Privoxy for one. It eliminate all Ad's that you do not like. I filter everything from doubleclick and it speed up webpage loads by 60%.

IF they want to start playing nasty, it's time to claim back your internet. Strip all the advertising you do not agree with. I get the think geek and other ad's here on slashdot, I dont get the Microsoft FUD campaign Ad's or any of the flash ad's as well.

Get and install PRivoxy, it works great.

Re:I've known about this for a while... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619581)

Needless to say I'm not happy about that, but in Vancouver my choices are limited
That is limited? Go to about 80 to 90% of the cities in America and you have two choices for broadband: the cable company or the phone company.

Re:I've known about this for a while... (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619681)

However, they also explicitly say that they insert ads:

As a content provider, I didn't give them any licence to create derivative works. Creating versions of my pages with ads, is clearly creation of a derivative work.

But of course, it's much more important for copyright law to prevent me from copying a CD for a friend, then to prevent some large ISP from violating my moral rights [wikipedia.org] by whoring out my content.

Belkin sucks! (5, Interesting)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619289)

One belkin ADSL modem actually did this. Every couple of days or couple of thousand port 80 request it displayed their ad instead.

They later issued a new firmware that disabled this. But not before I had issued them a "fuck off" feedback. I have never bought another belkin product since and I strongly urge no-one else to do so either. Fuck them.

Links to Belkins suckiness (Re:Belkin sucks! ) (4, Informative)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619301)

Belkin hardware sucks: http://www.google.fi/search?hl=fi&q=belkin+router+ adware [google.fi]

Yes I know their hardware sucks for other reasons also.

Re:Links to Belkins suckiness (Re:Belkin sucks! ) (2, Interesting)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619525)

I second that. We had a KVM of Belkin in the office ... it acheaved a level of suckiness I've rarly seen in the computer world. Most days it would just stop working, or the keyboard would stop working and a few times got into an endless loop switching between computers. How hard can it be to make a KVM? In the end it was easier setting up two keyboards, mice and screens :-/

When I bought one for home I went out of my way to get a non-Belkin model, ended up with some no-name brand and it works flawlessly. Cheaper too.

Re:Belkin sucks! (1)

usv (829497) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619449)

I and hopefully millions of other nerds around the globe too remember this story. Since then, whenever in IRL a topic of acquiring Belkin hardware has come up, I have reminded the potential buyers about the adware incident and will keep doing this for looong time in the future too :)

Opt Out Link (5, Informative)

cybermage (112274) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619311)

The company that runs the box the ISP installed provides an opt-out option. Go to this page [nebuad.com] and click opt-out.

I think their behavior with this product is reprehensible. Pass the link on to anyone you know who is affected and encourage them to call their ISP and complain every day until it's removed. If all their call center does is get complaints, they'll reconsider whether it's making them any money.

ISP comparisons need to note this (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619319)

There needs to be a new column in all those ISP comparison charts ... so we get to see who the clean ISPs are.

Hit them where it hurts: right where people are deciding which ISP to go with.

Re:ISP comparisons need to note this (3, Informative)

Anon E. Muss (808473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619387)

Hit them where it hurts: right where people are deciding which ISP to go with.

That only works if there is actual competition. In most large cities, customers have only two choices. They can go with cable modem service from Some Big Cable Company or DSL service from Some Big Telecom Company. Both usually suck. People living in smaller communities often have no choice at all.

Re:ISP comparisons need to note this (3, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619649)

Ah, one way in which competition is better in the UK. You can be broadband off a cable company (if you subscribe) or over the British Telecom 'phone lines - in which case you have dozens of ISPs to choose from.

I may not often agree with Gordon Brown: but him objecting to Sarkozy's attempt to remove 'competition' as a basic tenet of the EU was 100% correct. Protectionism, in the long term, hurts all consumers.

Re:ISP comparisons need to note this (1)

mikeraz (12065) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619725)

"In most large cities, customers have only two choices. They can go with cable modem service from Some Big Cable Company or DSL service from Some Big Telecom Company."

Those are the two providers of physical access to your premis. Smaller ISPs have worked over that moat for years. Portland, Ore. is not that large a city. We have a dozen ISPs I can name off the top of my head. All provide service over DSL lines that go through Qwest or Verizon (depending on your location) physical infrastructure.

Check with the local geeks, Linux user group for instance, they'll be able to help you find customer respecting ISPs.

Re:ISP comparisons need to note this (1)

Panaqqa (927615) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619741)

Well, sometimes there is an alternative, but not a great one. Where I live, there is no xDSL (we're >4 miles from the CO) and no cable TV. So I get my high speed Internet via satellite (Xplornet) - and so far after one year the service is quite good. I do have to put up with them filtering port 25, but I don't care too much about that since I just run exim on ports 2525 and 587 on my VPS hosts. I get 2Mbps - and the only REAL drag is the ~550ms speed-of-light latency. They use IP spoofing which speeds up transfers of large files, but a large collection of small files can be quite a bit slower than xDSL or cable.

Oh - no VPN or "Second Life" either (I'm shattered [NOT]).

Block the ads? (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619323)

Wouldn't Firefox or Opera users easily be able to block these ads? Not that it matters much to the ISP, as I assume most of their users would be on IE, so they wouldn't be losing that many viewers.

Re:Block the ads? (1)

Teifion (1022083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619467)

In addition it's logical to assume that it's possible for some pages to use Javascript to block the ads themselves, figure out where they're placing the ads and stick them in a
tag and hey presto, no ads!

Support Costs (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619325)

I wonder if one could sue an ISP to recover costs associated with,
  1. Support as a hosting provider to customers wondering why there's ads on their pages
  2. Support as a website subscription provider to visitors who pay a subscription fee to have ads removed

Data corruption (3, Interesting)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619327)

This is one angle to pursue, you have requested a page and the page you receive has been altered by the proxy, therefore "corrupted" the data.

If this continues then someone can write a plugin for Firefox to stop the adverts.

Re:Data corruption (1)

z0rprim3 (670716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619477)

And what about secure (HTTPS) pages like my bank website and other bill paying services, or even healthcare sites? I wouldn't want this proxy catching my balances or my private health info. HIPAA could have a field day here.

Re:Data corruption (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619689)

Considering that HTTPS is supposed to be secure at its endpoints, they shouldn't be able to inject anything into the HTML. If they're somehow catching you in the middle, the security certificate wouldn't be the one issued to the bank.

Re:Data corruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619717)

Sometimes the ISP provided software for setting up the connection installs a root certificate.

Time to rebuild the freenets. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619331)

Back at the start of the net, many people started to build their own little networks (e.g. the "freenets", which existed long before freenet) and make connections with their neighbours. This activity was wiped out when ISPs started providing service at less than cost in order to build their business, making freenets not worth the investment. Now we are back at the stage where ISPs are trying to make money and messing up the service. It's time to restart building those networks and move off the commercial ISPs. Does anybody know any good places to start this? I'm ready to interconnect with my neighbours. How do we arrange sensible cheap long distance interconnectivity?

What about freenetworks.org [freenetworks.org] ? Are Wifi Coops [wificoop.org] any good? Any others?

The Answer is Encryption (1)

jeremiahbell (522050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619645)

With this happening I can see more and more websites going to encryption. When I hooked up to a CIA factbook report on a country the other day the link was encrypted. I wasn't particularly worried about someone seeing what I was looking at (the URL runs plaintext to the DNS), but having a SSL connection to the web server ensured I was getting the original page.

Copyright Bonanza (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619335)

The content in my pages is copyright implicitly, even if I don't register or even declare it in the pages. The right my ISP has to copy it is only for the purpose of publishing it in the transaction I have explicitly permitted: publishing it on URL requests.

If my ISP copies it for any other purpose, like inserting ads, or copies it into (or as) some other context, like an ad page, it's violating my copyright.

Every copyright violation - every page - makes them liable for a fine. That can really stack up, and costs a lot more than each page view generates in ad revenue.

Unless I've signed away my copyright in some contract with the ISP. Which I personally haven't. Nor should you.

If you have retained your copyright, and your ISP violates it, you should look forward to them handing over their business ownership to pay the damages. Email your lawyer from your other account and get the ball rolling. Why should corporate copyright holders have all the fun?

Re:Copyright Bonanza (1)

kailoran (887304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619393)

Not that I don't like the idea of ISPs doing that getting sued to hell, but are you saying that all proxy servers are illegal?

Re:Copyright Bonanza (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619439)

I didn't get that from the OP's post ... but the question would seem to be whether inserting an ad would constitute a derivate work, and would (or would not) that be legal to do. I don't know, maybe there's an IP lawyer in the crowd today that could answer that.

Presumably the ISPs involved have lawyers too, and would have researched this question. Still, U.S. copyright law has been used to beat up the consumer lately, so it would be nice to see it work in the consumer's favor.

Re:Copyright Bonanza (2, Interesting)

kailoran (887304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619485)

The right my ISP has to copy it is only for the purpose of publishing it in the transaction I have explicitly permitted: publishing it on URL requests.

A proxy makes a copy for reasons other than publishing the content in the current transaction, so (nitpicking) it would mean it is ilegall.

Anyway. I'm not sure if copyright should be the law preventing this, I'd much rather have it illegal under some sort of privacy or wiretapping law. I mean, UPS doesn't stick adverts inside mail, and what the ISP is doing is pretty much equivalnt to slapping an advert on the second page of a book they deliver.

Re:Copyright Bonanza (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619499)

Anyway. I'm not sure if copyright should be the law preventing this

But copyright law does prohibit this abuse. It's up to you whether you take action under that law or not. You might take action under some other law prohibiting it. Or all the laws that do prohibit it.

Re:Copyright Bonanza (1)

kailoran (887304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619601)

Yeah, but what about e.g. public domain stuff? I don't think it should be A-OK for my ISP to stuff ads into pages that I request, regardless of their copyright status.

But obviously, if copyright law can hurt companis doing it, fire away. [I hope] They'll most likely sht it down entirely when/if the other option is paying damages or a lengthy court battle.

Re:Copyright Bonanza (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619715)

If your page contains any original content, even if what's original is just your composition of public domain content from more than a single source, you own the copyright on your original work.

If all you're doing is passing through one public domain content set, then you don't control the copyright on it, so you can't control your ISP's copying. The only right you have might be to the URL requests, which isn't copyright at all. Only if your contract with your ISP specifies "noncircumvention" do you have that control, which would trump all these copyright considerations, anyway.

If all you're serving is a single PD content set, how do you expect to control what happens downstream, since it's PD?

Re:Copyright Bonanza (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619535)

Anyway. I'm not sure if copyright should be the law preventing this, I'd much rather have it illegal under some sort of privacy or wiretapping law. I mean, UPS doesn't stick adverts inside mail, and what the ISP is doing is pretty much equivalnt to slapping an advert on the second page of a book they deliver.

You know you're probably right about that. Any way you slice it, this practice is abominable. I hate to quote him (I couldn't stand the man) but Jack Valenti once said something that was actually true: "Just because the technology makes something possible, it doesn't mean you should do it." This is one of those times.

Re:Copyright Bonanza (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619553)

ISPs go on the principle that they can do anything until made to stop, regardless of rights. Their lawyers, if asked (rarely), usually advise that it's still the "Wild West" on the Internet, and then state the risks in such a way that the ISP directors decide to take it, if there's any money in it.

I ran an ISP for several years, and still deal with the CEOs and admins of several. They're not inclined to let lawyers constrain their bizmodel, and courts have not changed their minds much.

Re:Copyright Bonanza (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619457)

If it's a public proxy, if it ignores the TTL, or if it modifies the pages, yes. There are even some valid arguments against organizational proxies, but they're not very actionable because it's difficult to show harm.

Private proxies are not a problem; I am allowed to make photocopies of a book for my own use, just not to distribute those copies. I could even copy text from a book, modify it, and keep that copy for my own personal use.

But the ISP is not the same entity as the customer, not even the same organization, so the ISP is re-publishing a modified work without permission.

Re:Copyright Bonanza (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619537)

Proxy servers make copies as part of the publishing transaction.

This is not an atomic database transaction that happens immediately. It's a real world transaction, that can be ongoing and open-ended in time, like, say, an autorenwed newspaper delivery subscription. You agree to let the ISP copy your content to publish it. That includes proxies caching it for more efficient distribution after the initial request. The HTTP protocol includes "opt-out", in "NOPROXY" headers, so pages without them are implicitly granting the right to proxies in the permitted transaction. Even if the proxies are at (or towards) the requesting ISP end of the comms, with whom there is no explicit contract.

How to take advantage of this (5, Interesting)

IdahoEv (195056) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619561)

It would seem pretty straightforward to document uses of your website to sell ads, so that you could sue ISPs for copyright violation. This seems pretty straightforward to me.

1) Generate a unique id for every webpage transmitted. php's uniq() function would be fine. Embed it in the page.
2) Generate a checksum before transmitting the page. Save the id and the checksum, perhaps in a mysql database, when transmitting the page.
3) Embed a javascript that can compute the checksum of the document at the user's end. Have it transmit the checksum back to the server.
4) If the checksum doesn't match, have the javascript transmit the content of the page and it's headers, and perhaps even a traceroute, back to the server.
5) Server stores all of the above in a "pages corrupted in transmission" log.

Log analysis should then give you a list of ISPs who have consistently corrupted your pages, details on what they inserted, and documented # of violations with date and time. You can take this documentation to the court and say "Look! Earthlink/Megapath/AT&T/Whoever has illegally copied my website to market their own advertisements 12,432 times in the last year!". Demand remuneration.

6) Profit!
7) Reduce ISP's willingness to fsck with other people's content and thereby make the world a better place.

8) (Optionally) Have your own javascript strip their ad and/or put a banner at the top that notes "Your ISP has attempted to illegally insert their own advertising into our website, thereby making money off you and me without either of our permission. We strongly suggest you switch internet service providers." -- try to get user pressure on the ISP.

I'm about to head out on a 10-day vacation. When I get back, if one of y'all hasn't written this yet I'll start on it myself.

Copyright infringement (3, Interesting)

Anon E. Muss (808473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619343)

The customers of these asshole ISP's may not be able to stop them, but web site owners might. HTML code is frequently copyrighted. Injecting Javascript into a web page creates an unauthorized derivative work. Some webmaster needs to start sending DMCA takedown notices to ISP's using these ad injection proxies.

Re:Copyright infringement (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619419)

I think you're on the right track with this.

The good news is copyright is automatic so the owner doesn't really need to do anything except file a complaint.

The bad news is they have to use the DMCA.

Now, for technical measures, wouldn't SSL stop this in its tracks?

Re:Copyright infringement (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619643)

***Injecting Javascript into a web page creates an unauthorized derivative work.***

So does injecting HTML. Fair use allows some exceptions. For example, if the ISP needed to tinker with your headers or page to get around problems with upstream routers, that might be OK.

I'm not (thank God) an IP lawyer but intuitively, it doesn't seem that pasting advertising into someone else's creative work without permission would be fair use.

ad-block? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619349)

hell, i already use privoxy, so 3/4 of the ads are blocked...
anyway, is there a complete list to the providers that use that crap?

Phone service providers are doing this too (5, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619353)

So if you mom is suddenly very excited on the phone about the latest washing powder or insists that you shave only with 5-blade Gillette for best results, you should know better.

There should be legal questions (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619369)

These ISPs are modifying the content of another source. They alter the format or content or appearance of the requested data or information. Potentially, they endanger the quality of the service being provided on the other end. This is an offense against net neutrality.

Content providers who earn income from their own web activity should be among the first to file suit against these ISPs. I imagine network TV companies would be VERY offended if advertisments were inserted over, in or around their own presented material and web based business should be expected to have the same offense taken.

Re:There should be legal questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619513)

>Content providers who earn income from their own web activity should be among the first to file suit
>against these ISPs. I imagine network TV companies would be VERY offended if advertisments were inserted
>over, in or around their own presented material and web based business should be expected to have the
>same offense taken.

I'm sure that the companies would be. Oh wait, they are:

"Flying J" the gas station company did this to broadcasts it was showing at the stations and substituted local in stations ads for their stuff of top of the normal television ads. They got sued:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tech_law_prof/200 6/06/flying_j_sued_o.html [typepad.com]

Smells to me... (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619411)

...like a copyright infringment. The ISP takes the work, creates a derivate, then distributes that derivate to you. Clearly the page is distributed as a whole even though it's made up of parts, you'd certainly relate porn ads to a company if they appeared on that company's webpage which means it's absolutely not its own work. It's like a book club embedding ad pages in the books before shipping them to members.

Distribution is an exclusive right of the copyright holder.
That they change the content means all paragraph 512 limitations are out the window.
The fair use test (commercial, creative work, almost whole work (all the non-ad content), kills ad revenue) is a 0-4 slam dunk against.

So tell me exactly, what's protecting the ISP from an "allofmp3" style lawsuit for a few trillion, since every web page is a $150,000 lawsuit in itself? Whoever in the legal department who approved this should be terrified.

Re:Smells to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619721)

That's what I was thinking. I'm pretty sure a judge ruled against a spyware company (Gater?) on the same grounds.

Go Somewhere Else? (2, Interesting)

Joel Rowbottom (89350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619435)

Ok, mod me down for this if you will, but why not just vote with your feet and go to a different ISP?

In these days of webmail and portable email addresses/domain names, why don't more people do this? It's still a buyer's market, and there's still lots of mom-and-pop ISPs who'll be glad of your business.

All the talk of 'taking legal action' smacks to me as being what's typically wrong with the entire attitude of everyone today. Compensation culture and all that - where there's blame there's a claim.

Re:Go Somewhere Else? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619497)

Because there's been so much consolidation in the industry that there is no way for the bulk of users to "vote with their feet". Well, I suppose they could by packing up all their stuff into a big truck and moving somewhere else with a better ISP. That's not really practical for most people though.

The FCC is a big part of this: they need to stop trying to "manage competition". They aren't very good at it. I'm fortunate that I live (for now) in a area with multiple providers (for now.) I currently have the overpriced Comcast as my ISP, because the local phone company only offers 1.5 mb/sec service at the moment. There are several different DSL provicers (including Speakeasy) in my local CO, so when the copper gets upgraded around here I may switch. It would be nice everyone in the country had options like that, but most don't, which is why there's such a "take it or leave it" attitude among many Internet providers. "Yeah, we provide shitty service but who's gonna tell us to do better? You?! Don't make us laugh, you're just the customer."

There are only two reasons that a typical third-rate operation like a Comcast or an SBC will get off their asses and deliver a better product: a. government-instituted quality-of-service standards with teeth and b. heavy competition. Otherwise, given how the modern American business culture is driven from the twin ideal of providing the least amount of quality for the most amount of money, as soon as the pressure is off they'll slack off. And they do, bigtime. The government has proven useless in enforcing any reasonable QOS standards on these people, so the only thing we have left to help us is competition. Around here, if I get crap from Comcast I just mention the dreaded magic letters "DSL" and the problem disappears. But like I said, I'm lucky.

Re:Go Somewhere Else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619565)

That's not always possible. I live in the U.S. in a rural area, and our only broadband choice was Comcast, until about 2 years ago when Verizon moved in and offered DSL.

Given that I will *never* go back to Comcast, if Verizon DSL starts this practice I have no other choice at all.

Re:Go Somewhere Else? (1)

Daychilde (744181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619607)

I don't think you deserve to be modded down, personally.

It's easy to "vote with your feet" if we're talking about, say, a restaurant. There are enough that it's really easy.

It's not so easy when there are many areas where there *aren't* a lot of mom&pop ISPs... Especially if we're talking broadband, which many/most (not sure where the exact line is, and it doesn't matter) now require for internet... Well, I suppose you *could* do less than broadband, but you could *also* ride a bicycle to work (not like that would be a bad thing, it's just a poor analogy, but it works on the level I mean it to)...

There's also the issue of money - mom&pop outfits typically don't gain direct access to the location of service. As far as I'm aware, the majority of wholesale broadband is DSL; and typically, the phone companies charge end users about the same as the wholesale fees that other companies pay... So you're still in a bind.

In regards to the huge lawsuits - I'm sure some really do mean what they say, but I think the idea is that to get companies' attentions, you have to actually threated with big sticks -- I think the point is to try and get this practice stopped, rather than actually honestly trying to get $150k/pageload... :)

Re:Go Somewhere Else? (2, Interesting)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619615)

>>Ok, mod me down for this if you will, but why not just vote with your feet and go to a different ISP?

Not always feasible - for one thing, many many areas have a limited number of ISPs available in their area - some rural regions may only have access to one broadband provider. Also, big companies only understand one type of complaint, and that's litigious type of complaint. If everyone moves to the only other ISP in town, this *other* ISP will destroy the first, and then immediately start putting ads right in content, now that the first ISP can't stop it. Thirdly, nearly every ISP (can anyone name an exception?) locks you into an xyz-month contract, which costs you an arm and a leg to get out of. If you're locked into this contract (which likely allows for this kind of thing, it'd be too massive an oversight of theirs to make), then there's very little you can do that won't result in them getting large gobs of cash, EXCEPT sueing the pants off them (or at least making them pay through the nose to defend from a class action suit). I'm against the ridiculously amount of litigation in modern society too, but sometimes it's best to fight fire with fire.

Re:Go Somewhere Else? (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619747)

Ok, mod me down for this if you will, but why not just vote with your feet and go to a different ISP?

Many people have a severely limited choice of ISPs.

It's still a buyer's market, and there's still lots of mom-and-pop ISPs who'll be glad of your business.

Where do you live that this is true? (Or are you perhaps mailing us through a time warp from the early 1990s?)

And customers choosing a different ISP doesn't solve the problem that content provider's moral rights [wikipedia.org] are being violated.

Don't just stand for it! (2, Funny)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619463)

Exercise your GOD-GIVEN RIGHT to stop using the offending ISP take your business elsewhere and.

Failing that, exercise your GOD-GIVEN RIGHT to walk into the ISP's main offices with an automatic shotgun.

I figure that either way, you're not gonna be using that ISP any longer.

Fair play. (2, Funny)

OgGreeb (35588) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619487)

We should start sending multi-page advertisements with our ISP payments embedded in the middle, to monetize the untapped revenue stream available when the ISPs want to get paid.

As this is coming from a hardware box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619491)

And the maker is known - what MAC addresses have been assigned to this maker so I can just toss in a block based on the MAC address ranges?

Re:As this is coming from a hardware box (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619671)

Are you an idiot or did you just fall off the turnip truck? You don't see MAC addresses unless you're on the same LAN.

That being said, is there any sort of signature by which content providers could identify requests from one of these poxy boxes and block or otherwise sabotage the unauthorized insertions?

Re:As this is coming from a hardware box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19619781)

It's a transparent proxy, if you block it you won't be getting any HTTP content (unless you proxy outside your ISPs network which may or may not work).

Assuming you were on the same subnet as the proxy (you wouldn't be - but hey), you could get the MAC address by sending an ARP packet to the devices IP address.

Ah, but there is a weakness (1)

Marrow (195242) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619567)


The assumption of the ISP is that the ads are rated "G".
Simply buy ads from their service that will offend all their
users.

The amazing health and psychological benefits of abortion
ought to do it. And at the bottom: This ad brought to you
by your friendly neighborhood ISP.

I don't think.... (1)

dgr73 (1055610) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619583)

*Read small print* ...ISP not liable if they lose data...devil owns my soul for eternity...agree to have my details being sold to spammers...pretty standard stu.., no wait... own the rights to genes produced by me and any of my offspring in perpetuity... no not it either. Looks like I never agreed to this.

I'd sue, but the contract with my ISP waived that right.

Ads == harassment (2, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619657)

Some time soon, we will cross the line where my opinion becomes a majority opinion: That any and all unasked for advertisement is harassment and should carry criminal penalties accordingly. Double the punishment if it masquerades as something else (i.e. fake grassroots campaigns, product placement, etc.)

Alternatively, lift all restrictions on advertisement. Then we'd at least have nude girls and hardcore porn on every wall and window, instead of beer and washing powder.

Huge privacy concerns. (1)

cno3 (197688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619735)

Online advertising is fraught with privacy concerns as is. Do you really want your ISP, who has access to your home address and credit details, and potentially your entire browsing history and e-mail records, sharing this info with their advertisers?

This isn't just about plugging a banner into a page surreptitiously.

Who Me? (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19619763)

Isn't this like searching my mail and stamping an add on my birthday card? If they are smart about cost cutting get rid of the junk. I don't need your webspace, or your email, or your start page, or much of the other junk you provide. Give me net access like you used to.
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