Verizon has been implementing a DNS redirection service for select DSL
customers. The service redirects users who mistype URLs to an Verizon-run search page (complete with referral links) instead of giving a traditional error message. While Verizon insists
the service was created to help users, it's really just a revenue generator. In essence, butterfingers create a revenue stream.
Verizon isn't alone. ISPs such as Cox
have all tinkered with DNS redirection services. While the majority of users aren't bothered by them, many users believe they "break"
core Internet functionality -- causing errors in useful network monitoring tools that require a "clean" 'net.Consumer Affairs
discovers the Verizon redirection service and wonders if the practice violates network neutrality, not only because it disrupts normal DNS functionality, but also because it could
be used to deliver advertiser-skewed search results:
In order to redirect the user to the search sites, the user's Domain Name Service (DNS) settings are altered, which can interfere with previously set network security and safe Internet browsing features. It also raises the question of whether or not an Internet provider that automatically redirects a user's searches without telling them will also shape the results they do get, such as filtering their searches to get specific results.
Of course, unlike Comcast's Bit Torrent throttling
, Verizon does allow users to opt out
of the service. The service first sprung up in the Midwest last June, and just recently appeared on the East Coast. We asked Verizon when/if this would be launched nationally, but received no response.