Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) several-year-old, well-documented practice of injecting copyright warners into the video streams of customers who may be illegally watching content has drawn renewed criticism from Internet pundits who say the company should leave its users' traffic alone.
The latest kerfuffle began when San Francisco developer Jarred Sumner published a code for the Comcast alert banner on his GitHub page.
Drawing interest from tech publication ZDNet, Sumner described Comcast's injection of the warning banners as a "man-in-the-middle" attack in which the MSO intercepts traffic between the user and their servers.
"This probably means that Comcast is using [deep packet inspection] on subscriber's internet and/or proxying subscriber Internet when they want to send messages to subscribers," Sumner told ZDNet. "That would let Comcast modify unencrypted traffic in both directions."
Imagining the most sinister of motives, the tech site also suggested that Comcast could "trick" users into thinking they "are on one site when they're on another instead."
Responded Sumner: "There are scarier scenarios where this could be used as a tool for censorship, surveillance [or] selling personal information."
Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas told FierceCable that company engineers published a white paper on the approach back in 2011.
He added that the company started using the technique in 2013 to deliver notices of copyright infringement as part of a non-punitive and educational copyright alert system outlined here.
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