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U.S. ISPs Hijacking Users' Search Queries?

     
12:18 pm on Aug 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

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U.S. ISPs Hijacking Users' Search Queries? [newscientist.com]
Searches made by millions of internet users are being hijacked and redirected by some internet service providers in the US. Patents filed by Paxfire, the company involved in the hijacking, suggest that it may be part of a larger plan to allow ISPs to generate revenue by tracking the sites their customers visit. It may also be illegal.

Reese Richman, a New York law firm that specialises in consumer protection lawsuits, today filed a class action against one of the ISPs and Paxfire, which researchers believe provided the equipment used to hijack and redirect the searches. The suit, filed together with Milberg, another New York firm, alleges that the process violated numerous statutes, including wiretapping laws.

The hijacking seems to target searches for certain well-known brand names only. Users entering the term "apple" into their browser's search bar, for example, would normally get a page of results from their search engine of choice. The ISPs involved in the scheme intercept such requests before they reach a search engine, however. They pass the search to an online marketing company, which directs the user straight to Apple's online retail website.

12:26 pm on Aug 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You are "the product"..
3:23 pm on Aug 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This may be a new twist but it's been going on for quite some time [webmasterworld.com].(Note that thread is NOT about FireFox, see encyclo's post, thanks encyclo.) It's maddening.
3:41 pm on Aug 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Ya, RoadRunner have been doing it for a while.

[dnssearch2.rr.com...]

You can change your preferences to disable the redirect.

[dnssearch2.rr.com...]
6:42 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The links provided in the responses refer to DNS Hijacking - something that has been around for a while.

Engine's post refers to the hijacking of actual SEARCH queries meant for the SE's. This is a whole different animal. I'm surprised that the leaders of these companies think it's ok to do this.


List of ISPs that are redirecting some search queries

Cavalier
Cincinnati Bell
Cogent
Frontier
Hughes
IBBS
Insight Broadband
Megapath
Paetec
RCN
Wide Open West
XO Communication

Charter and Iowa Telecom were observed to be redirecting search terms, but have since ceased doing so. Iowa Telecom stopped its redirection between July and September 2010, and Charter stopped in March 2011.

7:07 pm on Aug 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Engine's post refers to the hijacking of actual SEARCH queries meant for the SE's. This is a whole different animal.


Doh! Thank you for the clarification.
12:50 am on Aug 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Telstra Bigpond has been doing it in Australia for some time too. Redirecting ANY web wide "not found" pages to their own search engine (sensis).

Quite annoying realy.
1:02 am on Aug 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Redirecting ANY web wide "not found" pages to their own search engine

That has been going on for years ..in many countries ..with many ISPs..we had a long thread about it ( in foo I think ) in about 2004 or 2005 or thereabouts...My ISP at that time ( Tiscali ) did it with all non registered domain names that were typed into the address bar.

ISPs redirecting specific search terms to sites ( when sites exist which would have returned results without that redirection ) in order to make money for themselves via aff deals or whatever is hi-jacking ..
7:15 am on Aug 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Ya, RoadRunner have been doing it for a while. - pageoneresults

As has Cox Cable.


Cox will hijack your search right from Google to their own default 404 page laden will service ads.
7:34 am on Aug 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You are "the product".


That applies when a service is free and doesn't make money by selling directly a product, like Facebook or Google. At least it's limited to their web sites. But people pay these ISP and they expect non-interference when browsing the web. It's very sleazy and shouldn't be allowed.
 

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