Rogers accused of hijacking other web pages

Rogers Communications has drawn the ire of internet users and activists by inserting its own content, such as customer service notifications, into the websites of others.

In a weekwhen Canadian internet activists are up in arms over the government's proposed copyright reform bill, Rogers Communications Inc. is also drawing fire for what critics are calling the company's violation of net neutrality principles.

Los Angeles-based technology consultant and internet activist Lauren Weinstein wrote on his blogSaturday thatRogershad spliced into and "hijacked" customers' web traffic. Heincluded a screen capture showing content from the company inserted onto Google's home page.

The screen grab, forwarded to Weinstein by a "concerned customer,"shows a branded Rogers-Yahoo customer service message at the top of the Google page warning the customerthat they are near their download limit.

Weinstein said the warning was evidence that internet service providers are spying on customers and modifying howthey are using their service.

"What the blazes is all that ISP-related verbiage taking up the top third of the page? Why would Google ever give an ISP permission to muddy up Google's public face that way?" he wrote. "Google didn't give this ISP any such permission. The ISP simply decided to modify Google on their own."

Rogers spokeswoman Taanta Gupta on Monday confirmed to Wired Newsthat the company is experimenting with the technique as a customer notification system.

"We're trying different things, and we'll test customer response," she told Wired, which called the incident "Exhibit A" in the need for net neutrality legislation.

Internet chat groups were abuzz with angry customers on Tuesday. One user posted on the Net Neutrality Squad board that Rogers was running afoul of the Telecommunications Act, which states that "a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public."