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US internet providers hijacking users' search queries

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posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 01:44 PM
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US internet providers hijacking users' search queries


www.newscien tist.com

..More than 10 ISPs in the US, which together have several million subscribers, are redirecting queries in this way (see below for a complete list). None of the companies would comment on the redirection scheme, but evidence collected by Christian Kreibich and Nicholas Weaver at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, who discovered the redirection and have been monitoring it for several months, suggests that the process generates revenue for the ISPs.
(visit the link for the full news article)


Related News Links:
www.paxfire.com




posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 01:44 PM
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So here's how it works....

Your an ISP.
All user activity is 'capturable' so you snag anytime they use a search engine and respond with a set of links that YOU decide are the 'answers' to the search query instead of what the search engine would have returned.....

Now these links you have delivered tot he unsuspecting user are all links that provide you with a bit of income for every hit that website gets..... (in one case the ISP would get a 3% commission on anything the user purchased at the directed site.)

Multiply this by hundreds of thousands of hits... and you are making money where before you would only have had a chance to make money IF that link was returned as part of your search result...


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.


This practice was observed in the UK ...


It is not the first time that the desire of ISPs to monitor and monetise the traffic they carry has led to controversy. In 2008, service providers in the UK suffered a backlash after it emerged that they were working with Phorm, a company that developed techniques for tracking the interests and activities of internet users. Advertisers and publishers already track users' browsing, but ISPs are in a particularly powerful position because they can observe almost everything we do online. Many users complained about Phorm's data collection, prompting several ISPs to sever links with the company.


The culprit over here seems to be Paxfire who recently applied for patents to do precisely what Phorm had done.


In this case, examination of the redirected traffic has led the Berkeley team to believe that the service is provided by Paxfire. The firm, based in Sterling, Virginia, has provided advertising services to ISPs since it was founded in 2003. As well as using Paxfire to redirect specific queries, the ISPs pass many, or perhaps all, searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo through Paxfire servers – a process that places Paxfire in a similar position to Phorm.

Paxfire executives did not reply to New Scientist's multiple requests for comment, but the patents that Paxfire has been awarded, as well as others it has applied for, provide hints of its plans.


Is it a sign that commerce has overcome the respect for a users privacy?

Not much to say here that wouldn't be a pontifical soap-box rant. When you go to a search engine you expect the engine to return results that are relevant to your search...not relevant to the revenue your ISP wants to get their hands on....

By the way, this should also tell you that your ISPs are already tracking everything you do online.... (just in case you thought they weren't)



www.newscien tist.com
(visit the link for the full news article)


edit on 4-8-2011 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 01:53 PM
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This was happening to me last week, while I was doing searches thru google. I was wondering what was going on. It started to p me off and I finally just quit searching. Hasn't happened this week though, so that's good.



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 01:55 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


the process generates revenue for the ISPs



All hail the corporate system! Profits before people!


S&F&
btw



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 01:58 PM
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Originally posted by chiefsmom
This was happening to me last week, while I was doing searches thru google.



Its perhaps also worth mentioning at this point that there are also several version of malware that can infect your computer and redirect google searches.
chiefsmom and anyone else experiencing this shouldnt just write it off as those naughty ISP's, but best double check with appropriate software (like Malwarebytes) to be sure.



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 02:07 PM
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reply to post by alfa1
 


LOL Yeah, learned that lesson about 2 months ago, so I do have the program on my computer now.



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 02:28 PM
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this happened to me yesterday and yes it pissed me off too. Let me search where I want to search, not where you think i should go. So what I did was add request policy to my Firefox until I learn something better.



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 02:36 PM
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This may be helpful...


Shielding searches from prying eyes
Feel uneasy about the possibility of your internet search provider keeping tabs on your searches? A simple fix is at hand. Last year, Google launched a service that encrypts its search traffic, including the search term itself. To turn this encryption on, just use "https" instead of "http" at the beginning of the address that you have bookmarked for Google.

If you're a Firefox user and want to use encrypted communication on other sites, including Wikipedia, Twitter and Facebook, consider installing the HTTPS Everywhere extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The extension automatically turns on encryption for around 1000 sites that offer it.



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 02:38 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


I Had RCN for a while till about 2 weeks ago.. I noticed it happening and thought it was google… now I know otherwise!! Thanks!



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 02:39 PM
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Originally posted by Maxmars
This may be helpful...


Shielding searches from prying eyes
Feel uneasy about the possibility of your internet search provider keeping tabs on your searches? A simple fix is at hand. Last year, Google launched a service that encrypts its search traffic, including the search term itself. To turn this encryption on, just use "https" instead of "http" at the beginning of the address that you have bookmarked for Google.

If you're a Firefox user and want to use encrypted communication on other sites, including Wikipedia, Twitter and Facebook, consider installing the HTTPS Everywhere extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The extension automatically turns on encryption for around 1000 sites that offer it.


This is what I do all the time now! It works, Some sites are tricky though and do not allow "Secured" browsing.



posted on Aug, 4 2011 @ 03:05 PM
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Thanks for the thread Max, disgusting indeed.

If my local ISP starts crap like this all hell will break loose.



posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 03:14 PM
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A follow-up of the story which almost includes a rare happy ending!

www.newscientist.com...


The ISPs appear to have backed away from the redirection since New Scientist broke news of the process. The hijacking was first identified by researchers at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California. Tests run over the past few days by researchers there show that none of the 12 ISPs that were redirecting search queries last week continues to do so.

The ISPs may still be monitoring search queries. Tests show that all searchers to Bing and Yahoo are being channelled through servers linked to Paxfire, rather than passed direct to the search engine.


So the ISP's got busted and stopped doing this... but they are still channeling search requests through Paxfire....

Well at least there's this:


Blumenthal says he will discuss the possibility with Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat who heads the committee.

Blumenthal says he will also talk to federal and state bodies about possible legal action. He said that the conversations would likely begin over the next few days and could include the Federal Trade Commission and state attorney generals.

"These practices may well be a violation of law, including federal wiretap laws," says Blumenthal. "They are clearly a violation of trust that users place in ISPs."


One can only hope that the technology Paxfire uses isn't already being exploited by intrusive governments around the world..... *sigh*



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