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|Comments on news posted 2007-12-11 09:01:11: Over the weekend, blogger Lauren Weinstein discovered that Canadian cable operator Rogers Communications has started using a new technology that allows them to inject content into any website a subscriber visits. .. |
This has nothing to do with "network neutrality." Network neutrality means not using one's control of the pipe to disadvantage competitive content or service providers. For example, if you're a cable company that offers VoIP, network neutrality means not blocking customers' use of other VoIP providers.
Network neutrality does not mean that a provider can't "frame" pages (as do many providers -- especially those like Juno which provide inexpensive or free service) or send them informative messages via their browser.
Let's take a look at what Rogers is really doing here. They need to get a message to a customer. Like any experienced ISP, they know that there's a good chance that e-mail won't be read in a timely way, if at all. (We, as an ISP, find that our customers constantly change their addresses -- often after revealing them online and exposing them to spammers -- without any notice, and often let the mailboxes that we give them fill up, unread, until they exceed their quotas.) The Windows Message Service once worked to send users messages, but only worked on Windows and is now routinely blocked because it's become an avenue for pop-up spam. Snail mail? Expensive and slow... and the whole point of the Internet is to do things faster and more efficiently than that. Display a different page than the user requested? Perhaps, but that certainly comes much closer to "hijacking" than what Rogers is doing. Display a message in the user's browser window (where we know he or she is looking) along with the Web page, and let the user "dismiss" it as soon as it's noticed? Excellent idea. A wonderful, simple, unobtrusive solution to the problem.
Now comes Lauren Weinstein -- known for drawing attention to himself by sensationalizing tempests in a teapot -- claiming that the sky will fall if ISPs use this nearly ideal way of communicating with their customers. Contrary to the claims of his "network neutrality squad" (who have expanded the definition of "network neutrality" to mean "ISPs not doing anything which we, as unappointed regulators, do not approve"), this means of communication does not violate copyrights.
Why? First of all, the message from the ISP appears entirely above, and separate from, the content of the page in the browser window. It's not much different that displaying it in a different pane (which, by the way, the browser might also be able to do -- but this is better because it's less obtrusive). The display can't be considered a derivative work, because no human is adding his own creative expression to someone else's creation. A machine -- which can't create copyrighte works -- is simply putting it into the same browser window.
It isn't defacement, because the original page appears exactly as it was intended -- just farther down in the window. And it isn't "hijacking," because the user is still getting the page he or she requested.
What's more, there's no way that it can be said to be "non-neutral." The proxy which inserts the message into the window doesn't know or care what content lies below. The screen capture in Weinstein's blog showed Google, but it just as easily could have been Yahoo!, or Myspace, or DSL Reports.
In short, to complain that this practice is somehow injurious to the author of the original page is akin to an author complaining that his book has been injured by being displayed in a store window along with someone else's.
There are sure to be some folks -- perhaps BitTorrent users who are disappointed at having their bandwidth hogging behavior throttled -- who will take this as an opportunity to lash out at their ISPs. But most customers, I think, will recognize this as a good and sensible way for a company to contact its customers. Our small ISP is looking into it. In fact, because the issue is being raised, we're adding authorization to do it to our Terms of Service, so that users will be put on notice that they might receive a message through their browsers one day. I suppose it's possible that one or two rabid customers might dislike this mode of communication and go elsewhere, but I suspect that most of them will appreciate it.
Re: This has nothing to do with "network neutrality." I completely agree with you it is a Clear Quick means informing the user.
Many have complained in the past that there is no easy way to see their usage and raised hell that they were charged for exceeding the limit. Then you have people complaining that the invisible caps got them disconnected for exciding them. Now you have a system that answers to both and people complain.
I'm not a huge fan of Rogers but this time I have to say this is a service that is right on target to inform non tech savvy people when they are approaching a limit that exceeding will cost them money.
What good is an email alert when I goes to an account in a multi user home and the person that is currently using the service is not the person that pays the bill and hold the email account? I know people that didnt even know they had an email account with their provider because they always have used hotmail or some other long standing free email service.
Sad I don't know why anyone would say this is acceptable. It seems scary and on top of that it wouldn't it lower your bandwidth and speed...?
My biggest problem I have with this is that ok if they are allowed to do this isn't that saying that they can simply remove things they don't want me to see? Say I am browsing CNN and they don't let me see the latest news...can't they do that? Can't the block the site entirely? I find it very disturbing...
This has nothing to do with "network neutrality."
quote:The reason why it seems scary is because Lauren is trying to make it seem scary. It's actually a good idea. As for your speed: Why would it affect it? The message at the top is being generated locally.
I don't know why anyone would say this is acceptable. It seems scary and on top of that it wouldn't it lower your bandwidth and speed...?
quote:That's very different from what they're doing. All Rogers is doing is putting a message in your browser window, above the Web page you retrieved. That's all.
My biggest problem I have with this is that ok if they are allowed to do this isn't that saying that they can simply remove things they don't want me to see?
quote:I wonder if they could. How would a machine tell that it was the latest? Or even the news? (Artificial intelligence isn't that good.) Also, if they did it for anti-competitive reasons, it would violate the true definition of network neutrality -- and, more importnatly, laws prohibiting anticompetitive conduct. The authorities on both sides of the border would come down on them rather hard, as the FCC here in the States has already done on one occasion. I don't think that a courteous, informative message from Rogers Cable to their users should be ballyhooed into scare stories about Big Brother. Don't fall for the hype!
Say I am browsing CNN and they don't let me see the latest news...can't they do that?
Re: This has nothing to do with "network neutrality." The technology is being demonstrated using innocuous messages.
But this is a 'man in the middle' attack.
Suppose your government decides certain people shouldn't see certain kinds of information -- so they intercept the outgoing request, compare it to a list, and edit the outgoing request before it goes on out to the world.
World answers back, man-in-the-middle captures the incoming information, edits it, and sends it to your machine.
Basically this is the workflow for censoring paper communications, just rewritten to be done electronically and automagically.
Re: This has nothing to do with "network neutrality." Well it seems that they forced and infiltrated their way into and intercepted and/or took partial control over a user's personal interaction with web activity, without the user's informed or approved consent.
According to Wiki
Hijacking - means to take over by force.
Spyware - to intercept or take partial control over the user's interaction with the computer, without the user's informed consent.
Malware - is software designed to infiltrate a computer system without the owner's informed consent.
It seems that Hijacking, Spyware and Malware all seem to fit the bill here in some way or another.
In other words, anything that unscrupulously WebJacks a users personal internet experience by a third party Grayware without the users personal consent should be treated as malicious and unethical.
Shame on Rogers, but somehow not surprised.
Website intercepts Rogers does not appear to be only hijacking websites, it is dropping the web site's IP addresses, and replacing them with its own using Akamaitechnologies. This gives Rogers total control over the websites content, not to mention the ability to monitor and track their customer's Internet surfing.
This also involves overstepping their explicit authority as an ISP into the realm of security and privacy related issues.
This has nothing to do with "network neutrality."
quote:Actually, it's Akamai that does this, and it does it throughout the Internet as a way of speeding up access. It has contracts with hundreds of ISPs, including Rogers. What it does is not hijacking, because the content provider actually pays Akamai to do it. It works by causing domain name queries to resolve to the IP address of Akamai's cache. Nothing wrong with it at all; in fact, it makes many sites much faster than they would be otherwise.
Rogers does not appear to be only hijacking websites, it is dropping the web site's IP addresses, and replacing them with its own using Akamaitechnologies.
Of course, the misguided minions of Mr. Weinstein would probably not approve of any caching or Web acceleration and say that any such mechanism was against their Orthodox End-to-Endian religion. They would rather have you pay double or triple for a slower Internet connection than see this sacred doctrine violated.
Re: This has nothing to do with "network neutrality." Quote:
Actually, it's Akamai that does this, and it does it throughout the Internet as a way of speeding up access. It has contracts with hundreds of ISPs, including Rogers. What it does is not hijacking, because the content provider actually pays Akamai to do it. It works by causing domain name queries to resolve to the IP address of Akamai's cache. Nothing wrong with it at all; in fact, it makes many sites much faster than they would be otherwise.
Then the contract between Rogers and deploy.akamaitechnologies.com must be using IP's: 22.214.171.124 to 126.96.36.199
If you happen to be a Roger's customer then try blocking them, especially IP's: 188.8.131.52:0:80 to 184.108.40.206:80
Then visit primarily news and medical related sites, or sign-into your hotmail account then observe the sort of traffic that has latched-onto your browser, and your Internet connection. If that doesn't smell of spying on customer's interests and surfing habits then I don't know what does.
For me, unblocking those IPs do not make "many sites much faster than they would otherwise". "Nothing wrong with that at all", you say, well I don't buy it.
Use the Proxomitron This is just another example of why everyone should be using the Proxomitron. See the web the way you want to see it ...not how your ISP or a particular website or anyone else wants you to see it.