Hotel Caught Injecting Banner Ads on “Complimentary” Wi-Fi Network

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Incognito

I wouldn't care because when I stay at hotels I use an SSH tunnel to my router at home so all data is encrypted and the hotel wouldn't be able to inject anything. I don't think it's right that the hotels are doing this though and it definitely seems shady.

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bling581

I don't think it's "cool" by any means, but it's their network. If the choice was free wifi with adds versus no wifi then I'd choose the first one. As long as the adds are virus free however...

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Scatter

If it's Java Script that's creating the ads couldn't you just turn JavaScript off in your browser or install an add-on like NoScript to get around it?

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gamewizard

Wow if I ever caught a network free or not injecting code into my packets I would causes a force shut down to the dirty bastards. Also I would like to know how the system determines whether or not it is a data packet for a game or something like that where the JavaScript would causes a crash, also this makes the packets compromised and opens up a shit-ton of security holes.

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xmichaelx

I use my Android phone as a hotspot with a free app (FoxFi, but there are lots of others).

6Mbps average, and no more hotel wifi!

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mysterymantis

Mountain out of a molehill, eh? Probably, from the point of view that either way the end user has someone's ads to view anyway. I still would like to know the legal ramifications for this. They're not presenting you with a browser that has their ads on it that you then view your webpage through, or for that not just ads on their own webpage/sign in. They are altering every webpage you view. (Likely with shite software that will be easily exploited by those with malicious intent). But my ultimate point to this is that they likely do not have the permission of each individual website each individual visits to alter the content of their page. Much like a theater doesn't have the permission to insert their own ending to a movie just because it's being viewed in their theater. I don't think they can even show different previews that are attached to the movie. But they can advertise all they want on their screen before and after the showing...

Anyone able to cite precedent on this?

And as to free wifi, if you can access it without having to pay for anything, it's free. But then, these hotels like to advert "free HBO" that I'm pretty sure I can't watch unless I get one of their rooms. So, semantics.

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Insurgence

I do not know of any precedent on this, but I do not see how it would be illegal unless they actually modify the content of the site or interfere with the sites revenue stream. But injecting ads into a persons browser has been done pretty much since the advent of free ISP's. Just not necessarily in this method.

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Wingzero_x

This reminds me of the old Bluelight.com from the late 90s an ISP supported by KMart ads. But truthfully I don't care.

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Wingzero_x

Also weren't EMachines based on a similar strategy? Free/discounted web service was included, but it was ad supported.

So yeah, mountain out of a molehill!

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Insurgence

...but it would still change my opinion on that hotel. Now if they offered an additional charge for not having the ads then I would be a bit on the fence about it, but at least they offered the option of ads or no ads.

That and I would like to be informed that their WiFi is supported by ads simply because if they are injecting ads into my web-surfing, I'd like to know before I do anything I would not like them to know about.

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BadCommand

As long as they're not injecting ads into my porn- I'm good.

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germanogre

Free Wi-Fi is not free. It is included in your bill. Always. Can we please stop calling it "free"? I do not ever remember seeing "ad supported" or "*... *-details inside" on any motel street sign, however.

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aarcane

I'm payin' for the room, therefore I'm payin' for the wifi. Therefore, I'm decidedly NOT payin' for adds.

Also: Anyone who isn't at *least* VPNing to their home router (if not a proprietary service they trust) deserves whatever they get for being stupid.

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livebriand

WTF? The hotel room already costs enough as it is, so why must they add this crap on top of it? That's one hotel I won't be staying at then...

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routine

You guys are making a mountain out of a molehill.

You should more concerned about your credit card companies who know EVERYTHING about you.

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biggiebob12345

I run an end-to-end encrypted VPN on public wifi networks. So this wouldn't work.

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wolfing

I don't mind as long as they say it in parenthesis or * note right after 'Free WiFi' in their list of features.

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mysterymantis

They're "injecting" java script? There has got to be some sort of precedent already in place for this.

If this was, say, a page of ads you have to view to login to their wifi, then fine. But they are altering the incoming code before it reaches your system. How is that legal? It doesn't matter that it is free. I can give you a free arsenic laced apple, does that alleviate me of legal wrangling when you die from eating it?

Not to mention all the security problems that come with java. Would disabling java on your system counter this technique?

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routine

Java and JavaScript are two totally different and unrelated things.

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noghiri_x

Like @CPPCrispy said, I wouldn't mind ads if they are at the beginning when I first log on.
Injecting code is way too close to hijacking a browser for my taste.

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Donkey Fingers

When you're getting internet for free, you know it's automatically going to be horrible. It's their free stuff, the hotel can give it out in what ever condition they want. That would be like complaining that their "continental breakfast" is a really crappy breakfast. Of course it is: it's FREE. You already know it's going to be 1.5Mbps anyways, but it's free so it's better than nothing. It's their connection they're paying for, they are free to give the crappiest internet in the world. WE ARE FREE TO STAY SOMEWHERE ELSE. I say we vote with our hotel dollars, instead of complaining about it and staying there anyways.

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CPPCrispy

I think that if the internet connection is free then they should be able to display ads as long as they do not inject ads in to websites. I would not mind watching a 1 minute ad when I first connect to the wifi (similar to the way the page to pay for internet comes up) but when it comes to the the web sites I visit, they should not be changing them.

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RaptorJohnson

It's not free if they put ads in it.
I'm not saying i'm against no-cost ad supported wifi, but they shouldn't claim it is free.

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hades_2100

What's the cost? You're not loosing money, time or anything else monetizable.

It's free. They can do whatever they want. Isn't this what NetZero did with their ad-supported dial-up? I would just be grateful there's a connection.

hades

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Eoraptor

I'm sorry, but rewriting webpages is not fair or kosher. "Injecting javascript" is basically one step short of hacking.

Imagine this... a hacker checks into the hotel, or indeed, just parks in the parking lot or at the coffee shop across the street. They grab control of the hotel's portal, (because you can bet a hotel is not likely to spend a fortune paying for an on-site webmaster or PC security guy to patch all their holes) and find this nice little exploit the hotel is running. Bam, they now have a portal to "inject" malware and redirects onto every guest of that hotel from that point until someone discovers the exploit.

Not only that, but think about this; virtually every website you go to has advertising on it already. If this hotel is adding a layer of adds on top, what are the odds that they are covering up those existing ads, or at least stealing the traffic? they are now engaged in poaching advertising traffic from other legitimate websites. if you run a website and rely on adwords or doubleclick for reveniew, would you like some hotel replacing or adding to your carefully selected advertising with their own and grabbing your click bucks?

Sorry, free and gratis interwebs does not give the hotel the right to do all these sorts of things. I wonder, much like last year's CarrierIQ debacle, that we won't find out that half the hotels and coffee houses in the world aren't forcing this trash down user's throats.

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Baer

I agree with the comments here. If it is free then they can go ahead and advertise but not if it is paid. By paid I mean that if my hotel charge includes a "resort fee" of any kind then I am paying for the WiFi in some way and I would insist it be ad free or I would never stay there again.

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yayoranges

Considering that you're already paying for the room, this changes the meaning of "complimentary" wifi. I would try to avoid anywhere that follows this practice.

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0ly1r3m@1ns

This depends if they charge for the Wi-fi then this is disgusting but if its a free wi-fi then I can't say much but My friend ad-block and No-script will kindly remove this blight.

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JimmerSD

You bet. If they charge for the access I would instruct them to kindly remove the service from my bill and kindly stick it.

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Blaze589

Seems fair. I wonder how this would fair with FF and Ad Block Plus or even a blocklist manger.

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