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Mediacom Not Talking About Javascript Ad Injection
Users Still Waiting On An Explanation...
by Karl Bode 06:45PM Thursday Mar 03 2011
Earlier this week we reported that Mediacom was trying something most ISPs knew better than to tinker with: they were injecting their own ads into other companies websites using what appears to be deep packet inspection and Javascript injection. According to Javascript files, the technology was provided by a company named Perftech, whose deep packet inspection appliance first sniffs, then potentially modifies, consumer traffic. The technology is used by a handful of other ISPs, but not as far as we know for advertising. Canadian cable operator Rogers for instance uses the system to warn users they're close to their usage cap. WOW at one point used it for Amber Alerts.

Click for full size
Many users don't like any ISP hijacking of site code, much less advertising injection -- especially if users aren't being told the system is being used. As the week rolled on, other websites including GigaOM, Techdirt, and now the Associated Press have picked up on the story -- but Mediacom still isn't responding to any requests for comment, be it from us or anyone else. AP reporter Peter Svensson couldn't get comments from Mediacom or Perftech:
quote:
(Mediacom) won't say. Spokesman Thomas Larsen said the company's senior vice president of technology was unavailable for comment. On the company's Web forum, a complaining subscriber is told by a Mediacom representative that the issue has been "escalated to the corporate office and we are still investigating." . . . PerfTech officials were in a meeting and not immediately available to comment.
Why the silence? It's possible the targeted ads were potentially a limited trial imposed by an overly ambitious marketing department that didn't inform consumers the trial was taking place. That could potentially place the company in legal and regulatory trouble on both the state and federal levels, if you recall NebuAD's problems after ISPs failed to announce NebuAD behavioral ad trials. We won't know for sure the full details until Mediacom chooses to talk about precisely what occurred, and that may not happen until the company's lawyers have had time to assess the potential damage. Users in our Mediacom forums say they are no longer seeing the ads.

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zed2608
Premium
join:2007-09-30
Cleveland, TN
kudos:1

1 recommendation

id rather have ads then bandwith caps any day

just my opnion
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Re: id rather have ads then bandwith caps any day

its too bad ads will just be another revenue stream and will not prevent caps with high overages, or lower your bill one cent.

However the CEO is enjoying his new Bugatti Veryon.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

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

1 recommendation

umm....'kay. You'd rather have advertisements, and some unspecified time later, then bandwidth caps.

I personally don't want either.
averagedude

join:2002-01-30
San Diego, CA
Reviews:
·Cox HSI

1 edit
What happens when the ISP's get their way and start charging per meg / gig / whatever?... AND use all that advertising as bits against your over all total usage?

Sure it is a small number now, but I can see it adding up, and up, and up.

Edit:
I know they don't want to be "dumb tubes", but as a consumer that is all I really want and need.

IowaMan
Premium
join:2008-08-21
Grinnell, IA
They have a "soft" 250 GB cap as well
»Mediacom Cable HAS a Bandwidth Cap of 250GB

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

Nothing to say while their lawyers are scrambling

Mediacom won't have anything to say until their lawyers have figured out how to minimize the legal fallout. They will be looking to protect the company big shots while looking for a fall guy in the company to take all the heat when the hammer comes down.

Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:3

1 recommendation

"It was a mistake.."

Here Mediacom, let me help you. This excuse seems to work many times:

"It was a mistake on our part. Our engineers were suppose to deploy the ad injection system to a test system, and not to the public network. We deeply regret any inconvenience this may have caused our customers. We are committed to providing value to our customers and are constantly evaluating new methods and practices that can increase our customer's Internet experience."
--
CheckSite.us | YourIP.us | Reverseip.us

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: "It was a mistake.."

Just enhancing ye olde customer experience!

The Limit
Premium
join:2007-09-25
Greensboro, NC
kudos:2

Re: "It was a mistake.."

Hahaha. I love it when any company says that line. Whenever I read/hear/see that line, I know something stupid is up.
--
Do or do not, there is no try! - Yoda

syslock
Premium
join:2007-02-03
La La Land
Reviews:
·WOW Internet and..
said by Karl Bode:

Just enhancing ye olde customer experience!

Or the one that drive me crazy because its sooo overused....

We were adding value to the customer overall service experience.

batterup
I Can Not Tell A Lie.
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Netcong, NJ
said by Rob:

Here Mediacom, let me help you. This excuse seems to work many times:

Do you freelance Phishing email?

SeVere

join:2001-01-06
Chicago, IL
said by Rob:

Here Mediacom, let me help you. This excuse seems to work many times:

"It was a mistake on our part. Our engineers were suppose to deploy the ad injection system to a test system, and not to the public network. We deeply regret any inconvenience this may have caused our customers. We are committed to providing value to our customers and are constantly evaluating new methods and practices that can increase our customer's Internet experience."

Now that is some funny stuff. Too bad that will be the standard reply!

WHT

join:2010-03-26
Rosston, TX
kudos:5

Re: "It was a mistake.."

Hey...it worked for Google's Street View debacle.

rchandra
Stargate Universe fan
Premium
join:2000-11-09
14225-2105
I would agree. That they'd even consider ad injection so much that they'd even bother setting up a test environment is abysmal. Ad injection: just say no! No need for me to put up any test equipment for me to decide.
--
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!
Turbocpe
Premium
join:2001-12-22
IA
Well, someone from Mediacom allegedly did say it was a "mistake" earlier when this story first broke:

said by pokesph:

100% ILLEGAL!
data interception and modification.. bad, very bad.

After talking with Mediacom's Legal dept, (Tom Larsen) they are in the process of disabling this 'service' and say it was a "mistake" by the marketing dept and never cleared their legal dept lawyers.

If it is still happening, you can contact Tom at 1-888-692-9090 x2754 and tell him so.

»ad inject to stop...

batterup
I Can Not Tell A Lie.
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Netcong, NJ

Re: "It was a mistake.."

said by Turbocpe:

Well, someone from Mediacom allegedly did say it was a "mistake" earlier when this story first broke:

said by pokesph:

100% ILLEGAL!
data interception and modification.. bad, very bad.

After talking with Mediacom's Legal dept, (Tom Larsen) they are in the process of disabling this 'service' and say it was a "mistake" by the marketing dept and never cleared their legal dept lawyers.

If it is still happening, you can contact Tom at 1-888-692-9090 x2754 and tell him so.

»ad inject to stop...

So the marketing department has the power to tell the programmers and the network people what to do. What was the guy's name in marketing who gave the orders? Inquiring minds want to know.

Nacho Cheese

@mpowercom.net

Re: "It was a mistake.."

These days the marketing department *always* gives the orders.

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

oops

The way I read this
quote:
On the company's Web forum, a complaining subscriber is told by a Mediacom representative that the issue has been "escalated to the corporate office and we are still investigating." . . .
is that Mediacom has a contract to do what they started doing, and they're trying to figure out how to get out of it without losing money or being sued.
--
I don't have a problem!

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

Mediacom are dolts, unwilling to learn from others

Apparently they were just born, and didn't have enough life experience to find out about Linksys and Belkin. I mean, this is really, really stupid. Would these morons tolerate being redirected from their normal driving route so that they would be sure to drive past some billboard? I think not! People very simply don't want their data screwed with.

I agree with others who have pointed out they're probably in a bunker now plotting (legal) damage control.
--
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!

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

3 recommendations

Nothing to see here

"There are no ads. Everything is the same as always."

mnt

join:2004-10-03
Baldwin, AL

Re: Nothing to see here

Perfect!

antdude
A Ninja Ant
Premium,VIP
join:2001-03-25
United State
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
said by 88615298:

"There are no ads. Everything is the same as always."


Wow, I haven't seen that meme for years.
--
Ant @ »antfarm.ma.cx and »aqfl.net. Please do not IM/e-mail me for technical support. Use the forum! Disclaimer: The views expressed in this posting are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer
cobo6

join:2002-02-18
Willingboro, NJ

less money on ads, more money on upgrades

These companies got money to find new ways to advertisement to reach my living rooms, etc but they can't used that money to lower my bills, upgrade their networks, etc.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast

Most Likely Illegal

I think this practice is 100 percent illegal. There are laws against conversion, which is defined as taking something and converting it to your own use. There are also laws against computer hacking. I am willing to bet there are already lawyers cooking up class action lawsuits over this and Mediacom will probably settle by discontinuing the practice and giving bill credits to affected customers, admit no wrongdoing, and the plaintiff lawyers will walk out with one fat check. I also see lawsuits coming from website operators as well. Then there is possible litigation over privacy as well. Many internet connections are used to transmit confidential information such as HIPPA Sensitive (aka. protected patient health information), proprietary company secrets, financial data, client/consumer records, and many other bits of information that has to remain confidential for various reasons. One of the clinics I go to uses web based medical charts and a lot of the practitioners access the medical chart system from their home computers and that entails information protected by the federal health privacy laws known as the Health Insurance Portability Practices Act or HIPPA. I would not want my confidential and protected health information getting in the hands of advertisers. The fines for breaches of HIPPA sensitive information are steep to the tune of $15,000 per violation.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

Aren't they a "marketing" insurgent?

While I understand the opportunity to generate revenue that could be used to offset costs and keep prices from increasing, doesn't this compromise the site's ability to offer their own ads? What if an injected ad accidentally covers an ad sent by the original site? If that happens, where is the advertiser's recourse? The site sent the ad and from their perspective, the ad was viewed, they want to be paid.

I suppose it's no harm done if it only costs the advertiser when the customer clicks on their ad but I suspect site owners are also compensated by advertisers for page views.

If this becomes rampant, will sites switch to SSL (HTTPS)? Unless there's an agreement between the ISP and the site owner, justice would be served if most sites went SSL thereby making the appliance just another technology "door stop". Depending on how quickly sites followed suit, it would also represent an almost "overnight" end to whatever revenue was being generated. I wonder if Mediacom thought about how quickly the ROI on their appliance could end up a big fat zero?
jmmilner

join:2001-11-20
Yorkville, IL

Re: Aren't they a "marketing" insurgent?

I don't use the word "think" and "marketing" in the same paragraph. Mediacom's marketing hacks are only interested in pushing ads that make you "feel" warm and fuzzy about whatever they are pushing. Thinking doesn't enter into it.
fredthomsen
Premium
join:2011-03-01

I know what they'll call it...

The ISPs refer to this as a 'value add'...