News flash: I agree with Seth Finkelstein

by Mathew on December 11, 2007 · 18 comments

Plenty of people, including Wired’s Threat Level blog and my friend Leigh, are up in arms about the fact that Rogers (a major Internet service provider, for you non-Canadians) is inserting messages to its customers on top of web pages such as the Google home page. Wired brings up the spectre of net neutrality, and other sites are also scandalized by the practice.

Mike Masnick of Techdirt is right when he says that Rogers’ behaviour betrays a kind of arrogance — a “we own the pipes, so we’ll do what we damn well please” attitude — but I fail to see how this has anything to do with net neutrality. Contrary to what Kristen Nicole at Mashable and others are saying, Rogers is not “overwriting” Web content, it’s merely pushing the page down and inserting a message at the top. Cynthia Brumfield has an example of something Verizon does that she thinks is worse.

Lots of sites do the same thing with frames and so on. Is it ugly? Sure. But apart from that, I don’t see what everyone is getting excited about. In fact, while I’m not sure I want to make a habit of this sort of thing, I’m going to side with Seth “Bah Humbug” Finkelstein on this one. As he notes in his post, this just isn’t that big a deal. Let’s save all of the net neutrality hyperventilating for something a bit more serious, shall we?

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