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The Five Levels of ISP Evil 243

schwit1 writes "Recently a number of ISPs have been caught improperly redirecting end-user traffic in order to generate affiliate payments, using a system from Paxfire. A class action lawsuit has been filed against Paxfire and one of the ISPs. This is a serious allegation, but it's the tip of the iceberg. I'm not sure if everyone understands the levels of sneakiness that service providers can engage in."
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The Five Levels of ISP Evil

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  • by aeoo ( 568706 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @04:09PM (#37080738) Journal

    I'm on Charter and I've most definitely been randomly redirected to Charter's internal search page for no good reason. The last example of this I definitely remember is when I tried to visit and instead I was sent to Charter's search page. Charter's search then displayed as one of the search results. When I clicked on the search result I was sent to without any further issues. This tells me there is no technical difficulty at all, it's just a corrupt tactic being used by Charter to try to milk their customers (as if they need even more profits, as being being a one of the companies in a duopoly is just not good enough for them).

    Fuck everything about this practice.

  • They forgot a bunch (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 13, 2011 @04:22PM (#37080836)
    • Using a NAT, so customers don't get a real IP address
    • Using a firewall, blocking all incoming TCP connections
    • Slowing down or blocking certain services, based on port numbers or DPI (bonus points if the ISP operates a competing service)
    • Slowing down or blocking packets from certain hosts
    • Doing any of the above, and then denying it when customers ask about it
    • Disconnecting customers for alleged copyright infringement, without a court order
  • by darrylo ( 97569 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @04:29PM (#37080864)

    Are people somehow missing the point??? The article was written by the CEO of an ISP that is NOT doing those things (they're also not doing usage caps, which people would discover if they read the other blog posts -- see Mar 23).

    (Disclaimer: they're also my ISP. They're amazingly clueful, and will even give their subscribers a limited shell account, although you do have to ask for it. It's great for an ssh web proxy, to help prevent hijackings at public wifi access points. )

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 13, 2011 @04:37PM (#37080902)

    That's immunity from charges that they cooperated with government spying without a warrant.

    Which has absolutely nothing to do with "redirecting end-user traffic in order to generate affiliate payments". The government is not involved in that, did not ask the ISPs to do that, and offers no immunity to prosecution from that.

  • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @04:38PM (#37080908) Homepage

    It's not just that it shows ads, it breaks lots of internet services.

    People seem to forget that the web isn't just HTTP, and there are quite a few other things that do DNS lookups. And weird stuff happens when a name that doesn't exist resolves, and the connection is directed to an ad server.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:03PM (#37081046)

    There's a more permanent fix... set your router to use Google's open DNS servers... Google is helping to redefine evil, but at least their DNS servers actually conform to standards and don't engage in these kinds of shenanigans.

  • by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:44PM (#37081188)

    The problem with that approach is that the network (at least the "last mile" leading to customers' residences) is a natural monopoly. See [] for a definition. For a competitor, it is usually not worthwhile to build a parallel network if he can reach only a few customers. Result: The incumbent ISP can like a fuckhead and get away with it.

    A way to solve that would be a public network where the customer can choose his provider and the provider can then rent the wire from the customer's house to the next telephone exchange. Germany got that one halfway right:
    When the telecommunications branch of the former Deutsche Post (public mail and telecom authority) was privatized, the new company "Deutsche Telekom" also got the network - under the condition that they rent out the "last mile" to competitors if the customer wants to go with one of those. A new regulation authority controls the price for that rent.
    As a result, Germany actually has DSL competition in most places. Of course, there is still a lot of bickering between Deutsche Telekom and the competition about how much rent is fair, and the regulation authority is needed to keep the Deutsche Telekom from charging excessive rates. But by and large it works.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.