Canadian ISP Modifies Google Homepage, Raises Spectre Of Net Neutrality Again

The net neutrality debate has recently been revived by allegedly fraudulent activity by Comcast in restricting or trying to prevent use of heavy bandwidth sites like BitTorrent. (Here’s a PDF of a lawsuit complaint). Now Canadian ISP Rogers has been accused of hijacking Google’s homepage to send bandwidth-related usage information to its subscribers.

Matt Cutts and the Wired Blog explain further. And Seth Finkelstein did some of the original investigation on the story. However, Matthew Ingram doesn’t think Rogers’ move is a big deal or worthy of all the outrage.

Here’s a screenshot of the hijacked Google homepage:

ScreenHunter_1073 (source: Wired)

The Wired blog post has a statement from Rodgers that confirms the “test,” which it should be noted, isn’t targeting Google specifically. While the legality of doing this is far from clear, it also raises troubling issues about ISP monitoring, manipulation, and filtering of content.

US Congressman Ed Markey recently introduced new net neutrality legislation in the US House of Representatives (there’s a similar bill in the Senate). However, there are questions about whether it will pass and whether it would prevent the kinds of activity complained about in the Comcast lawsuit.

Google, for its part, is pursuing a variety of strategies to create direct access for users, including participating in the forthcoming 700MHz wireless spectrum auction and the so-called “white space coalition” to gain access to unused analog TV spectrum.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Outside US | Legal: General

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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