Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) decision to insert self-promotional advertising into its Wi-Fi hotspots "raises security concerns and arguably cuts to the core of the ongoing net neutrality debate," an Ars Technica story maintains.
Comcast's ad insertion program months applies only to Xfinity publicly available hotspots and not to Comcast customers connected to Wi-Fi routers at home, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas told the publication. The ads alert consumers that they're contacted top Comcast's Xfinity service and suggest viewers download Xfinity apps, Douglas added.
"(Comcast's) code, or the interaction of code with other things, could potentially create new security vulnerabilities in sites that didn't have them," Schoen said.
It's not as if ad insertion into Wi-Fi is something new. The difference is that Comcast, a strong proponent of net neutrality, is under the microscope as the FCC determines net neutrality policies which could include provisions that broadband providers deliver broadband without putting in any data packets.
"The FCC should be able to say, 'Hey Comcast, don't interfere with Internet connections by injecting these ads into websites,'" attorney and network neutrality activist Marvin Ammori told the publication.
While Douglas insisted Comcast has good intentions, network expert Robb Topolski questioned anything that altered a free and clear broadband signal.
"It's the duty of the service provider to pull packets without treating them or modifying them or modifying them or injecting stuff or forging packets," Topolski said. "Imagine every Web page with a Comcast bug in the lower right-hand corner. It's the antithesis of what a service provider is supposed to do. We want Internet access, not another version of cable TV."
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