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The Net Takeaway: We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical.

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We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. · 11/05/2007 01:11 AM, Marketing Tech

(From The Outer Limits)

All the fuss over Comcast restricting traffic on its network is bringing around (AGAIN) the fuss over whether an ISP subscriber is allowed to do whatever they want on the network. From “unlimited” bandwidth really being capped to the no-longer-true expectation that an ISP would include alternative data sources like Usenet to the latest fuss over Comcast restricting Bittorrent shares, people are finally starting to recognize that their ISP controls their view of the internet, and that the ISPs act like they have the right (via “license agreements”, click-wrapped or otherwise) to fog, reduce, obscure, track, and share anything that you do on their portion of the network (meaning, actually, anything you do, period).

And here’s one most people don’t think of, but should be included in the list of bad behaviors. I recently typed in a bad domain name, and I wound up on this page:

http://wwwz.websearch.verizon.net/search?qo=www.blahdeblah.com&rn=RmNKJQ-iZ6uE_dv\\

This page is basically an Infosearch powered tool for Verizon to make money off of search ads. If I click on the links, I generate cash for Verizon. Instead of “helping” me, its just a moneymaker. How do I go back to just getting an error, which is what I should be getting for a non-existent site (domain exists but has no site, so returns a DNS error)?

Oh, don’t worry, you’ll never find it. You have to go to “About This Page”, the button on the top right (which is an image, not even text… why is that?).

Depending on the Verizon page you get to, you either get something like this which does give a direct link to opt out (but wait til you see how to do it…) or you get this page, which tries to hide it even more, this page on Infospace, by putting it in a fold so you STILL don’t get the info until you click more.

And how, pray tell, do you opt out? Oh, simple as pie. You have to go into your modem/router settings, and change the hard coded DNS 4th octet from .12 to .14. What a joke. And catch the name, “DNS Assist”. In just what way are you assisting the DNS process by intercepting it?

Opting out of DNS Assistance

So, you force this moneymaker deal on the user, and you make them change their DNS settings in the depths of the network config of their router to opt out?

So, add another checkmark to the fight between the network and the user. I know other ISPs do this stuff, and practically every hotel network also does it. And of course, let’s not forget the immense success of the American mobile market, which involves carriers controlling every aspect of the user experience on their network, and charging for every point of control or access that they can.

I believe I am paying for the right to access the Internet, so get the heck out of my way. They believe that I am just giving them money so that they have the right to control my “onramp to the information highway” or whatever metaphor their marketers are telling each other when they enact these plans.

The time is coming when these networks will lose the little loyalty of the customers they have left. Games like the ones I mention at the top of the post are nails in the coffin. It doesn’t take an expert marketer to look at the “growth” of mobile, the impact of the iPhone, and the rise of consumer control of marketing to recognize that the money is in enablement, not dictatorships.

Or, given the behaviors of Comcast and Verizon, maybe it does.

Also mentioned at ConsumerAffaris.com Verizon Overrides Internet Searches With Its Own Results and GigaOm Verizon Redirects Typo Traffic to its Own Search Service

PS: Yes, it does not escape me that Yahoo!, my current employer, is providing the search results and ads on that “Assist” page. I am pleased for them to make some money, but I don’t think this is the way I want to get it. And yes, “my opinions clearly do not reflect those of my current employer, etc.”

PPS: BTW, if you really don’t like these kinds of games, there are Public DNS Servers . Note that a commonly suggested alternative to IPS DNS, the OpenDSN, also has a “OpenDNS Guide” feature for domain errors, and it cannot be turned off.

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