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Mediacom Ad Injection Was Popup Test Gone Wrong
As Well As A Test Conducted Without Informing Users
by Karl Bode 03:00PM Tuesday Mar 08 2011
Last week we were the first to report that cable operator Mediacom was using deep packet inspection technology and Javascript injection solutions from Perftech to insert advertisements into websites -- including traditionally ad-free sites like Apple.com and Google.com. Despite the fact the story made the rounds to a number of additional websites including the Associated Press, Mediacom has refused to comment publicly on the matter -- to us or anybody else. A concerned hosting company informed us they were told by Mediacom the ad injection was a test that failed to get Mediacom legal's ok before proceeding. Another source this week tells Multichannel News that it was an error, and the ad selling Mediacom phone service was supposed to be a pop up:
quote:
Mediacom Communications last month inadvertently injected ads for its phone service into broadband subscribers' homepages as part of testing a Web-notification technology, according to a source familiar with the project...Mediacom is investigating the tool for potential future uses, such as alerting subscribers of late payments or to notify them that they're approaching monthly bandwidth-consumption limits if the operator adopts usage-based billing, the source added. The Mediacom ad was supposed to pop up in a new window, according to the source: "They were testing it to see if it worked." The test was suspended after Mediacom realized the error.
Granted, Mediacom realized the error in part because our users were informed about their connections and started to complain. Mediacom also failed to inform users that the test was ongoing, and still hasn't made an official comment on the matter likely due to legal concerns.

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Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

Testing?

This is why you beta test in-house, not on the production network.

I call BS on this. I'm sure they're trying to save their own ass before it gets sued off by their slightly-ticked customers.

I'm sure, if no one complained, they'd keep it fired up and generate more ad-revenue for them and call it a "feature".

MEohME

@wideopenwest.com

Re: Testing?

sued for what? Do we have to go here again? there is NO laws preventing this. No Laws, No regulation. NOTHING. Nothing prevents them from doing this. WHY? It is THEIR NETWORK! And a few customers that complained? LoL. most of their customers probably NEVER noticed and the people that probably complained where people that do NOT even use them nor have access to their network to start off with.

Brustus1

@mchsi.com

Re: Testing?

May be a copyright violation for the ISP to alter a major website/page such as Google or Apple without consent. If they can alter the page to stick in an add, what's next?

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Testing?

said by Brustus1 :

May be a copyright violation for the ISP to alter a major website/page such as Google or Apple without consent. If they can alter the page to stick in an add, what's next?

Better point than those who think the customers can sue. Much more likely that Apple, Google, etc have a cause of action.
--
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»www.speedtest.net/wave/1b3ef29fa84ff7ce
chgo_man99

join:2010-01-01
San Jose, CA
if it is not modifying source because it displays ad in a separate frame I don't know if that counts against copyright laws.

rchandra
Stargate Universe fan
Premium
join:2000-11-09
14225-2105

Re: Testing?

It is creating a derivative work of (potentially) a copyrighted work, ergo copyright infringement.
patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
Copyright and trademark infringement. You put your ad on my intellectual property and used my intellectual property to advertise your product without a license. Its called loss of "good will". Many years ago (early 2000s), adware replaced banner ads on all the websites you visited with their own ads.

»www.techdirt.com/article_main.ph···8/144214

Think of it this way. If I took the Apple logo, made a poster with a big Apple logo, then put my ad beneath it, and glued it somewhere in an urban city. How longer before the Apple legal team will be on me? Thats banner ad replacement.

BHNtechXpert
BHN Staff
Premium,VIP
join:2006-02-16
Saint Petersburg, FL
kudos:138

Re: Testing?

said by patcat88:

Copyright and trademark infringement. You put your ad on my intellectual property and used my intellectual property to advertise your product without a license. Its called loss of "good will". Many years ago (early 2000s), adware replaced banner ads on all the websites you visited with their own ads.

»www.techdirt.com/article_main.ph···8/144214

Think of it this way. If I took the Apple logo, made a poster with a big Apple logo, then put my ad beneath it, and glued it somewhere in an urban city. How longer before the Apple legal team will be on me? Thats banner ad replacement.

Hmm you might be on to something. It would mean however that each site owner would (and should) file the appropriate trademark and copyright paperwork for their site. It's not really that hard btw and is minimal in cost. Perfect for situations just like this.
--
"I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time."
~ Herbert Bayard Swope

hackingnogoo

@telus.net
said by MEohME :

sued for what? Do we have to go here again? there is NO laws preventing this. No Laws, No regulation. NOTHING.

Ummmm. Hacking is a crime for end users(and in this case 'wiretapping' by the ISP to be specific). So why is hacking the users data by the ISP, via DPI and javascript not a crime? Hmmmm.
Whoever has the biggest payroll to buy Federal Judges tends to win, as the end user can not afford to spend years on what should take 15 minutes to fight in court. With the innocent users winning.

Until enough people from various ISP's standup and say, "no freaking way will we let you Hack our data to insert Ad's or notifications".

Quit trying to protect big business. They got Rich with zero regulation and paid for Judges in a specific State/county, to be able to not give a ratts ass what the law says.

BHNtechXpert
BHN Staff
Premium,VIP
join:2006-02-16
Saint Petersburg, FL
kudos:138

Re: Testing?

said by hackingnogoo :

said by MEohME :

sued for what? Do we have to go here again? there is NO laws preventing this. No Laws, No regulation. NOTHING.

Ummmm. Hacking is a crime for end users(and in this case 'wiretapping' by the ISP to be specific). So why is hacking the users data by the ISP, via DPI and javascript not a crime? Hmmmm.
Whoever has the biggest payroll to buy Federal Judges tends to win, as the end user can not afford to spend years on what should take 15 minutes to fight in court. With the innocent users winning.

Until enough people from various ISP's standup and say, "no freaking way will we let you Hack our data to insert Ad's or notifications".

Quit trying to protect big business. They got Rich with zero regulation and paid for Judges in a specific State/county, to be able to not give a ratts ass what the law says.

It isn't hacking and it isn't illegal interception by the true definition however it crosses ethical boundaries and certainly borders on intellectual property rights violations which would be civil in most cases depending on the severity of the violation. For the later of the two whoever takes this on legally has one hell of a fight ahead of them because I'm fairly sure this would be uncharted waters....not a good place to be unless you have deep deep pockets.
--
"I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time."
~ Herbert Bayard Swope

woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA
If a script kiddie defaced a website which is what I consider this, they if caught would pay the price.
--
BlooMe
chgo_man99

join:2010-01-01
San Jose, CA
Whats that American obsession with suing over products or services?

First make storm calls to customer service and complain! The more customers complain the more they likely to listen.

jjoshua
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Scotch Plains, NJ
kudos:3

.

Dupe

jjoshua
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Scotch Plains, NJ
kudos:3

BS

I call BS.

It's all the same thing.

fatness
subtle
Premium,ex-mod 01-13
join:2000-11-17
fishing
kudos:14

Re: BS

said by jjoshua:

I call BS.

I'm inclined to also. From the article:

The Mediacom ad was supposed to pop up in a new window, according to the source: "They were testing it to see if it worked."

What is the difference between coding a popup and coding an injected ad? There are plenty of people here with technical knowledge of things like that, and I'm curious about that. Is it "all the same except for one small detail" or "a completely different thing" to the one creating the code? Thanks.
--
I don't have a problem!

BHNtechXpert
BHN Staff
Premium,VIP
join:2006-02-16
Saint Petersburg, FL
kudos:138

Re: BS

said by fatness:

said by jjoshua:

I call BS.

I'm inclined to also. From the article:

The Mediacom ad was supposed to pop up in a new window, according to the source: "They were testing it to see if it worked."

What is the difference between coding a popup and coding an injected ad? There are plenty of people here with technical knowledge of things like that, and I'm curious about that. Is it "all the same except for one small detail" or "a completely different thing" to the one creating the code? Thanks.

It's substantially different especially given the methods they are using to begin with. How they thought they could pass this off as a "coding error" totally escapes me unless (1) they think you all are morons OR (2) they have morons running the show who don't know the difference.

If it were a coding error as they allege then it shouldn't have worked at all. Meaning you can't just accidently do what they did. If they weren't intending to do what they did then the code to do so should never have even been on a server somewhere to accidently find it's way into production. Get where I'm comin from?
--
"I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time."
~ Herbert Bayard Swope

fatness
subtle
Premium,ex-mod 01-13
join:2000-11-17
fishing
kudos:14

Re: BS

Yes, I do. And thank you for the information; it's what I suspected.
thedragonmas

join:2007-12-28
Albany, GA
kudos:1

UBB and im cuttin the cord!

quote:
or to notify them that they're approaching monthly bandwidth-consumption limits if the operator adopts usage-based billing,
if they pull that crap im SO cutting the cord. i all ready pay too much for too little speed, ill be DANGD if im payin what i pay now only to get capped and bent over the couch with overages!!

BHNtechXpert
BHN Staff
Premium,VIP
join:2006-02-16
Saint Petersburg, FL
kudos:138

And injecting popups is any less offensive?

Cmon peeps. You are gonna tell us that injecting popup ads into a users web experience while on a NON Mediacom site is more acceptable than what you did? Apparently you just don't get it. You can inject popups all you want on YOUR site but you keep your damn hands off your users experience on MY site which has no popups btw.

Mediacom would do itself a huge favor by either shutting up altogether or just coming clean. You screwed up and big...admit it, promise it will never happen again and move on. Stop trying to wag the dog.
--
"I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time."
~ Herbert Bayard Swope