back to article Comcast using JavaScript to inject advertising from Wi-Fi hotspots

Comcast has begun injecting adverts onto the computers of users who sign up for its public Wi-Fi network, although the company prefers to use the term "watermark" to describe its efforts. The ISP operates over 3.5 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the USA and people who sign up for home or work internet can choose to add them into …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    You really, really can't fix that kind of stupid

    Even Dilbert can't top this.

  2. Tom 35 Silver badge

    You can be sure

    That they will not be popping up pizza ads in a week or two.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Ah.. marketing bafflegab

    see title.

  4. Number6

    Which data stream?

    Is this the initial sign-on webpage or are they piggybacking on normal browsing? If the latter then that's an even bigger incentive to log in and then fire up the VPN so they can't interfere with my traffic.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "He explained that the adverts last for a maximum of three seconds before disappearing and reassuring customers that they are using an official Comcast hotspot, although they can also advise them of apps that can be downloaded."

    I guess this is their response to the Pineapple script. How soon before this added measure is added in? Whatever they provide, a rogue AP can be configured to provide the same thing. Unless Comcast starts issuing certs and having them installed on mobile devices to verify the authenticity of the hotspot, there is little they can do to to stop a rogue hotspot from masquerading as an legitimate one. The problem is, they want to make homes hotspots as well. Unless they are going to make those lightweight AP's, they are going to have to have that cert on them and thus could be removed and used elsewhere. Give it up Comcast and move on.

  6. Uncle Ron

    Slippery Slope to Much Higher Prices

    Don't think for a moment that "slipping ads" into hot spot streams is the end of Comcast's nefarious plans. Imagine, for a moment, that Comcast implements Metered Billing, as they have publicly stated they intend to do. Then imagine that they can now bill you for using the internet WHEREVER YOU ARE! This is their plan for having 'hot spots' all over the place. Think for a moment that each time you turn on a light in a hotel room, or used an air dryer in public restroom in a highway rest stop, or--you get the idea--that YOUR HOME ELECTRIC BILL WAS CHARGED!! That's their plan. To bill you for internet service wherever you are. And they actually intend to use other people's routers to do this! We have to stop Comcast and the other cable and telecoms in the US from taking over and making huge profits from what should be our public utilities. Vote accordingly in November.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Slippery Slope to Much Higher Prices

      How, when ABSOLUTELY NONE of the candidates who would actually do something about this are even on the ballot. Heck, many ballots are unchallenged.

    2. Peter Simpson 1
      Unhappy

      Re: Slippery Slope to Much Higher Prices

      "We have to stop Comcast and the other cable and telecoms in the US from taking over and making huge profits from what should be our public utilities. Vote accordingly in November."

      Well, it's a Democratic administration that has let them get this far, so we wouldn't want to vote them back in. And the Republicans are "business friendly, anti-regulation", so I think I know how that would turn out.

      Who do you like in November?

      1. Uncle Ron

        Re: Slippery Slope to Much Higher Prices

        The repliers have made fair points about legislators being bought and paid for by Comcast. But not all have been, and not all are on the record. Force your Congresscritter to state his position on new "last mile" legislation, and reclassifying internet service as a utility. Unless s/he says the right things, vote for the other guy.

        Comcast is a damn cable TV company. Franchised in every place they operate to deliver, not own, content. Why they are in the advertising business and speaking at advertising conferences is totally beyond me.

        We need to separate "the last mile" from every other business, carefully regulate that, and let everybody compete. This works in other developed countries with better, newer technology, faster speeds, better service, better technology, more competition--and LOWER PRICES.

  7. Christian Berger Silver badge

    That should be illegal

    After all it's manipulating other people's data intentionally. It should be just as badly punished as if I was to go to my bank and add some additional digits to my bank account.

    1. Number6

      Re: That should be illegal

      Working on the principle that those with lots of money seem to get away with all sorts of things, you just have to add enough zeros that you qualify for the exemption.

  8. Christian Berger Silver badge

    If you actually want to do something against that...

    ... join the Freifunk movement. The goal is to have a network as independent as possible of commercial companies. This works via a meshed network over Wifi as well as VPN or microwave links. Current devices open both a managed and an ad hoc network, so even mobile phones can join easily. Due to the meshed structure it's rather resilient to outages. And with modern protocols like B.A.T.M.A.N. Advanced you can even run all nodes with exactly the same configuration.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you actually want to do something against that...

      Sounds terrible inefficient to me. Plus there's the matter of how upstream connections are handled, unless the intention is to WiFi everything from coast to coast.

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge

    They've got Phorm

    Isn't that what this is, essentially? It needs to inspect traffic in order to stick the JavaScript in the right place, which may be a "Welcome to Comcast" message or may be an advert.

  10. Crisp Silver badge

    I got as far as Front Page....

    Then I started getting flashbacks to when I was fixing websites in the 90's.

  11. Peter Simpson 1
    Thumb Up

    Have signed on to one of these

    I saw no ad, but I wasn't on for long, and this was a few months ago.

    "...reassuring customers that they are using an official Comcast hotspot, "

    Unnecessary, because you have to be a Comcast internet customer, and must use your Comcast username and password to sign on.

    The nice thing about these hotspots is that once you sign on to one, they give you a cookie or log your MAC address or something, because you don't need to log on again if you go to a different hotspot. So, at least they did that part right.

  12. MrXavia
    Facepalm

    So the first thing hackers will do is copy this by creating a 'fake' hotspot and again reassure customers its a legitimate hotspot....

    If your using a public hotspot, use a VPN you pay for....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comcast is unscrupulous

    How many people know that Comcast is blocking legitimate e-mail sent to many individuals and businesses in the U.S. from international ISPs? How many folks know that this illegal blocking of e-mail has been going on since 2013? How many people know that Comcast blocks ALL e-mail from legitimate international ISPs who are the largest ISPs in a given country?

    If you don't know the above, then you have no idea of how unscrupulous Comcast is. They will lie to you and tell you they are not blocking e-mail until you get the error message sent to international e-mail senders proving that Comcast is illegally blocking legitimate e-mail.

    If you reside in the U.S. or travel to the U.S. for business or pleasure and want to be able to communicate with family, friends and business associates, etc. located outside the U.S. via e-mail, then you need to file an official consumer complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and any Federal consumer protection agency in your country. Comcast's illegal blocking of international e-mail impacts all U.S. customers be they individuals or businesses and 99.99 % of Comcast's customers know nothing about this illegal blockage Comcast has perpetuated as this blockage was never disclosed to consumers.

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