Comments: "Google Hijacked" debunking follow-up - guest post from ISP owner

It is important to interpret this in light of Canadian, not US law. The Telecommunications Act states:

Except where the Commission approves otherwise, a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.

What Rogers is doing, delivering a message/advertisement, violates the Act.

While the sky might not be falling this practice in conjunction with the filtering and traffic shaping already practiced by Rogers is indicative of the ways in which ISPs will continue to interfere with their users' Internet use.

Posted by Nart at December 18, 2007 10:47 AM

I suspect this specific instance would be deemed not to "control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications". The ISP itself doesn't seem to think it's a violation.

I would say this should not be viewed "in conjunction with", since it's a service-related matter.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at December 18, 2007 12:23 PM

Playing devil's advocate here? The practice of ISP inserting such stuff sucks, just like many things online suck (spam farms, pop up windows, bulk mail and what not), and I wouldn't want it to happen to my own webpage... and I hope ISPs who do it will continue to get slammed :)

Posted by Philipp Lenssen at December 18, 2007 03:51 PM

As long as the ISPs don't go out of their way to throttle competition - so people can choose another which doesn't I don't have a major problem.

If almost all ISPs weren't so hated by their customers for the lousy service and lack of choice then maybe the customers wouldn't go out of their way to ignore their service messages and get cranky when they try and shove more stuff down their throats.

The customers already pay for service and now some ISPs will start trying to force extra ads down their throat. And people wonder why customers get annoyed.

However, getting a meaningful choice of providers is not that easy.

Posted by tqft at December 18, 2007 04:18 PM


you'd think someone would figure out how to block such ISP "messages/"ads or whatever the way you can block regular ads.


P.S. I agree with tqft, the ISPs should have the decency to take no for an answer... and stop trying to get in through the chimney and the like -- people are just going to figure out how to block the chimney so you only get the poor souls that don't know how to find this stuff to hate you
even more and for good reason... D.

Posted by Delia at December 18, 2007 05:11 PM

Philipp: But ISP's have a legit reason to warn you about service issues, in the way the other examples do not.

tqft: This particular use is not about ads, though the technology provider says it can be used for ads for ad-subsized ISP's. I can't get worked up about that either.

Delia: In the above instance, there's an opt-out.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at December 18, 2007 06:38 PM

Seth, you don't really believe people would opt into this kind of thing, do you? (they should make it an *opt-in* if they really think some would *want* this -- I highly doubt it -- opt-outs are just taking advantage of the fact that at least some people just would NOT spend any more time reading extra stuff so ... so *technically* they haven't said "no"...but they haven't really made a CHOICE either...) D.

Posted by Delia at December 18, 2007 10:08 PM

Well, the whole point in this case is to reach the non-power-user, so it sort of has to be opt-out. Remember, we're only talking about a message that you're about to exceed bandwidth limits. That's what has caused all the ruckus.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at December 18, 2007 10:14 PM

ok...then make it opt-in! (that would make sure people *want* it and it's not just a way to put in ads or who knows what later on without peoples' actual consent...) D.

Posted by Delia at December 18, 2007 10:38 PM

oops! you said it *had* to be opt-out? I don't understand why... D.

Posted by Delia at December 18, 2007 10:41 PM

Because it has to reach the NON-power-user ... the person who won't know to opt-in, or how to do it even if they wanted to do so.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at December 18, 2007 10:47 PM

as long as it's LIMITED to messages pertaining to the *functionality* of the service, I suppose it's not exactly "evil"... but once it's done, what would stop the ISPs from just putting ads or other things in that space? wouldn't we be better off to leave it as it is and have these people call the ISP if they have trouble and don't know what to do? most of them would end-up doing that, anyways...D.

Posted by Delia at December 18, 2007 11:13 PM

No, because the whole point is to inform users before there are any problems.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at December 18, 2007 11:21 PM

It seems to me that you would have to trust the ISPs not to abuse it and I see no good reason to do that... do you, Seth?:) D.

Posted by Delia at December 18, 2007 11:30 PM

It's not a matter of trust - if they do anything that really violates copyright or trademark law, they can be held to account via those laws.

But it seems absurd to say "ISP, you cannot send customers an important system message, because you *might* use that ability for ... [what? ads?]".

In the US, ISP's already have, BY LAW, broad ability to block any site they want, and have had that ability for a DECADE. Nobody cared, until some companies started trying to manipulate civil-libertarians to be unpaid lobbyists. It's a tribute to how the cats really can be herded sometimes.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at December 18, 2007 11:43 PM

They *might*? Come on, Seth... you really think they WOULDN'T do it if they could get away with it? who *knows* if it would really violate those laws until expensive litigation goes through?

"In the US, ISP's already have, BY LAW, broad ability to block any site they want, and have had that ability for a DECADE. Nobody cared..." --> are you suggesting people *shouldn't* care? what side are you on, Seth?


Posted by Delia at December 19, 2007 12:09 AM


I don't think Seth is on any side. Just trying to get some facts out there and explore the issue a bit more.

The side issue he has been exploring I think is related to the way corporate interests are trying to push issues with a bit more subtlety than previously - they are supporting "concerned" citizens in their quest for empowerment.

L Weinstein at a first glance at his blog doesn't look like a corporate shill, but that doesn't mean those on his side aren't being influenced subtly or otherwise. In some ways it is a good cause "network neutrality" but there are a lot of corporate interests on both sides eg CNN, Google (content providers) vs Ma Bell and friends, who stand to make or lose some significant cash.

Are they going to stand back when it is their dog in the fight?

The technology exists, the laws allow it, the money is there for the taking.

These companies have a fiduciary duty to scoop it up. If they aren't backing a horse in this race some corporate ass should be kicked.

Posted by tqft at December 19, 2007 07:31 AM

tqft: "Net Neutrality," in general, would serve corporate interests, agreed... (craigslist among them -- no wonder Craig is loudly praising Obama) but things like whether or not ISPs should have yet another means to annoy a large part of their customers or whether people should be concerned that the ISPs want to do something about their unwarranted right to block any site they want... these are serious issues OUTSIDE of the "Net Neutrality" interests. Do they try to USE them to justify "Net Neutrality"? yes! Seth is right on this... but not on dismissing the issues themselves. Talking about ways of dealing with the issues *without* having them be used to justify "Net Neutrality" would be the better way to go about it... I think... D.

Posted by Delia at December 19, 2007 12:21 PM

Delia: I'm on my side 1/2 :-). For years and years, anyone who talked about ISP's and censorship would immediately be flamed by a mob of net.libertarians who would whine MY SERVER MY RULES! (it's a catchphrase), we would hear endlessly how any g-g-g-overnment (spit, choke) involvement would destroy the Internet, on and on. Now suddenly, just when some very big money players have a financial interest different from ISP's, the terrible horrible dangers of ISP censors are all over the place, and Something Must Be Done! Yeah, this is really about civil-liberties, right.

tqft: Money creates an ecosystem. People who swim with the money get attention, and people who don't ... don't :-(

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at December 20, 2007 04:05 PM