Paxfire, RCN Sued For Snooping
Paxfire Insists to us They've Done Nothing Wrong
Last week we directed your attention
to new findings by some Berkeley researchers and the EFF that shows that ten ISPs are using hardware to intercept and sometimes redirect user search results for additional profit. According to the research, the companies are using a technology provided by a company called Paxfire to generate additional revenue by tracking user search activity while occasionally redirecting traffic from popular search terms to affiliate partners.
Given that none of the ISPs involved have clearly notified customers of this technology, they're potentially violating the law. No ISPs have been willing to comment on the allegations for just this reason. What's more, after the story went public, all ISPs involved stopped the practice
-- which tells you plenty about how legal the effort probably was.
Not too surprisingly, a new class action lawsuit has now popped up
accusing both Paxfire and RCN of violating both federal and state laws. "This interception was done secretly, without users' consent or knowledge, in violation of federal and state laws, and in breach of RCN's agreements with its customer," the complaint states. It notes that Paxfire technology is allowing ISPs to covertly hijack search traffic, occasionally redirecting users to "dummy pages laced with ads" instead of real search results.
Paxfire has reached out to us stating that while they can't comment on specifics because of the suit, they essentially deny -- well -- everything.
"Paxfire does not and has never distributed or sold any information on users, either individually or collectively," says the company in an e-mail, adding that they "never, ever" collect, monitor, store or sell personal data on users, collectively or as individuals, nor do they hijack searches or impersonate search engines. "This would be fundamentally contrary to our service mission, which is to improve the user experience by helping users arrive at their intended website after having mistyped a web address," says the company.
Most of our readers will be aware that "improving the customer experience" in this industry is usually code for making an additional buck by doing something consumers will probably find annoying (be it DNS redirection, new caps or price hikes). Paxfire may be using semantics -- accurately denying that they themselves do any of this activity, despite the fact their hardware allows ISPs to. While only RCN is being sued, researchers fingered ten ISPs that are using Paxfire tech: Cavalier, Cincinnati Bell, Cogent, Frontier, Hughes, IBBS, Insight Broadband, Megapath, Paetec, RCN, Wide Open West and XO Communications. Charter also used this technology, but stopped in March -- likely due to legal concerns.
"We partner closely with our ISP customers to ensure the service is operated not only in full accordance with the law and end user agreements, but also in a way that provides a good user experience," says Paxfire. Except according to the researchers who discovered this behavior and the lawsuit, there's no specific language in any customer agreement that informs users this behavior is going on. As a result, Paxfire may find themselves under fire in much the same way behavioral advertising firms were for violating both privacy and wiretapping laws.
Re: Cool gimmick
said by Blackened:People are still buying Nike and Sony
Good luck with that damage control.
| |cdruGo ColtsPremium,MVM
Fort Wayne, IN
Re: Cool gimmick
said by rchandra:History of child and/or sweatshop labor in the factories they contract through.
ummm....Nike? What's up with Nike?
Also more recently, there was a controversy regarding drug themed shirts.
i wouldn't exactly rank Nike up with Sony on the corporate evil chart if that is what the OP is referring to.
Re: How much money is enough?
said by 88615298:Yes, and oh my GOD, HEEEELL YEEEAH!
God damn does everything got to be about the almighty dollar when you're making BILLIONS already? Do people have to still be assholes just to earn a few more?
I'm pretty sure the small hole isn't a reset button, but is actually a microphone hole. So best not to stick anything inside it. (credit: Rashdan@slatedroid)
| |cdruGo ColtsPremium,MVM
Fort Wayne, IN
said by ctceo:Then telcos shouldn't need the courts to sign off on wiretap warrants*. I mean, the switching equipment is on their property...
It's on their property.
* - Yes, I know about the "illegal" NSA wiretaping fiasco...
| |rchandraStargate Universe fanPremium
said by coldmoon:What I don't understand is why the US Amendment XXII only applies to Presidents. What I'm hoping for is an amendment which encompasses Reps and Senators too. Maybe such an amendment could also update XXII so that the LCM of terms would be the limit...in other words, currently, since Senators are 6 yrs, Reps are 2, and Presidents are 4, the limit would be 12 years. But at the same time, I would like to reduce all the terms too, with the justification that society now has the tools to communicate far more rapidly, therefore we're stuck with these rascals too long. Let's say halve all the terms.
The "freemen" voted for these people time and time again, yet complain when they see them giving exactly what they told them they would get.
Hopefully that'll somewhat alleviate the "vote for people over and over" problem we seem to have for everything BUT the Presidency. Shorter terms would hold all reps/execs more resposible and responsive to their constituents, while retaining the intent of republics to limit mob rule.
English is a difficult enough language to interpret correctly when its rules are followed, let alone when a writer chooses not to follow those rules.
Jeopardy! replies and randomcaps REALLY suck!