So Angry I Can't Think Straight

I concluded an otherwise relaxing morning reading a thread on advertising and ISP's over at /. I am now ready to enlist in some nerd militia and storm an ISP. Let me explain.

For those with no desire to RTFA or the thread, internet service providers are using firewall technology to insert advertisements into websites without either the content provider OR the end user's permission. One of the first replies in the thread makes an analogy:

Actually, I'm more pissed as a content provider then I am as a consumer. How dare they! If I wanted advertising on my content, I'd put it there, and get paid for it. For me, this is totally stealing from content providers and not just annoying to consumers. I mean, isn't that like making money off of other peoples content? Wouldn't that be more like a telephone company forcing you to listen to an add before you place or receive a call? Imagine....

Phone rings and you pick up....

(You) - Hello? (Automated Hell) - Hello, this is A-T-And T, we have a call for you, but first, we'd like you to enjoy a message from our sponsors...

(You) - Click!

[posted by tha_mink}

I can think of an even better metaphor: imagine your local cable operator putting streaming advertisments across the top of every tv program. Or think... of fuck it, I'm too pissed off to think of anything.

How is this not illegal? What surprises me is that content providers (those with big powerful legal teams) haven't sued the shit out of the ISP's over this. And I don't want excuses about "rising costs"--as a user I pay top dollar for my broadband connection. As a content provider, I pay for my domain and my server space.

Why am I so angry? Because, as a standards enthusiast, I don't want ISP's junking up my code. This is happening right now with the NALS website. If you hit "View>Source" in your browser, you'll notice all this crap code Yahoo is dumping on our site after the HTML ends. And this code is inserted server side: meaning that even if I download the files, I won't see that code. That code is inserted as the pages are delivered to the web. And they destroy my standards validation. Assholes. Another poster described a similar problem with Virgin.net, and included a comment in his HTML to explain why his pages weren't validating. Bullshit! Shenanigans! I call shenanigans! I dont't want to have to include comments! I want my ISP to deliver content as I create it! S-H-E-N-A-N-I-G-A-N-S !

I keep meaning to send Yahoo a polite WTF email, but since I'm not the "owner of record" (the site is registered to our president, I use his account info for FTP), I have resisted. I think its time for me to begin drafting. In an age when ISP's are battling to regulate and charge more for certain content types, they are also committing one of the most unethical acts I can think of: altering and profiting from an artist's content without permission.


Wishydig said...

This is infuriating. Looking at the source page pushed me over the top.

At first I was chuckling about the level of your anger then I looked and saw completely foreign and corrupting code right there on your page.

My neck twisted and my upper lip started to curl. This is bad.

Where do we go? Where can I send an email or sign a petition? Geez this is horrible.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

I don't know--a few people on /. reported having similar problems, but the response seems to be "isp are asses who stuff ridiculous clauses in user contracts, but what choice do we have?"

I'm going to fish around the EFF and CC a bit and see if I can find anything.