Cable provider latest ISP to hijack typo traffic.
Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has introduced a “Domain Helper service”, which redirects web address typos to a page featuring pay-per-click advertisements. The pages also include a link to a web site that may be what you were originally looking for and organic search results.
The service is very similar to what ISPs such as Verizon and Time Warner, and computer manufacturers such as Dell and Gateway have instituted. The services are akin to typosquatting, but ISPs tend to rationalize them by saying they help customers find what they’re looking for and that customers can opt-out.
In comments submitted to ICANN regarding Implementation Recommendation Team proposals to combat cybersquatting, some commentors including eNom called out Verizon for its apparent hypocrisy. Both Verizon and Dell are members of Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse. Verizon was sued over the scheme in response to a lawsuit Verizon itself filed against a typosquatter.
Does your ISP kindly redirect non-existent domain names for you? Help Domain Name Wire collect examples of these error landing pages. Capture a screenshot of a non-existent typo of DomainNameWire.com and Verizon.com. E-mail it to editor (at) domainnamewire.com including the name of your ISP, the service (such as Fios or DSL) and the city you reside in.
Reece Berg says
If they were really trying to help their customers, they’d redirect non-existent domain type-ins to Google instead of trying to profit off it just like a typosquatter…
Dominik Mueller says
Verizon, Gateway, Dell, Sony and others have been doing this for a long time now. In Germany, Deutsche Telekom is doing it, too.
Sometimes it’s the ISP forwarding you to the parking page, sometimes it’s a pre-installed software on your newly acquired computer. I wrote about this in May 2007 already, and not much has changed since then.
Domainers get (deservedly in most cases) bad press for the monetization of typos, but the large companies, which are probably making way more money from this than even the large domain portfolio owners, get easily away with it.
This is called the law of the rich. It is a double standard.
Take Bernard Madoff. He did not do much different than US banks are doing today. US Banks are leveraging your dollar 75:1. That’s a Ponze scheme worser than Madoff.
Anyone with power, authority, money will do the same thing as a joe shmoe and they are able to get away with it.
It has been like this for thousands of years and will never change.
Reece said: If they were really trying to help their customers, they’d redirect non-existent domain type-ins to Google instead of trying to profit off it just like a typosquatter…
–> It is actually a Yahoo search page. Does that pass muster or will only Google do?
John Berryhill says
This is fine.
Verizon and Comcast are perfectly allowed to profit from typo’s of trademarks. They are big companies with lots of money and influence, and are therefore trusted to do this kind of thing.
Domain Investor says
John, are you saying?
The poorer a company or person, the sleazier they are.
I knew there was something sleazy about Mother Teresa.
Andrew Allemann says
@ Domain Investor – I believe John is saying they can get away with it, because they believe they are holier than thou
Andrew: What are you planning to do with your collection of parking page screenshots?
Andrew Allemann says
Jorge – publish them to show how these big companies are basically parking typos. I think there are some key differences between various implementations, too. Some are less infringing than others.
can we get a class action lawsuit going?
Don’t forget Windstream they typo squat also.
This breaks a useful feature of Safari (which would give you an option to search google). Lame
Robert G. says
What really stinks is that you are automatically opted-in! And to opt-out, you have to type in your cable modem’s MAC address into an online form (and, of course most non-geeks are very comfortable locating and typing in a 12-digit MAC address!).
Thank you, ComCast for making my life more complicated! I was SO bored!
@ Robert G.
The current opt-out is a temporary one for the trial. A new one will be rolled out soon where you just click to opt-out and need not include your MAC address.
Robert G. says
Why should I have to opt-out at all? Shouldn’t I have to opt-IN?
Oh wait, of course, ComCast knows what’s best for me, the idiot consumer! I’m so glad they’re looking out for my best interests!
You can forget about the “opt-out”. I opted out twice. Once online. Then again on the telephone where they young lady said “I can see the ‘opt-out’ going into effect now.”
Yeh. Right. Two weeks later I still get their stupid ads.
Anyone know how to find another DNS?
@Howard – I am not sure what the issue is but if you email Tom Creighton, he can help you out at tom_creighton at cable.comcast.com
Robert G. says
@Howard: As much as I resent ComCast hijacking my internet connection to make money, I have to admit that after opting out (which I shouldn’t have had to do) AND typing in the MAC address of my router, they have stopped typosquatting domain names.
So although the process is a pain-in-the-@$$, it does work.
I have just tried to opt-out by logging into comcast and clicking to disable this “service”. Unfortunately there own controls do not work. Where is the form to type in the MAC address?
Would you please contact me to help resolve your opt-out situation? I can be reached at chris_griffiths at cable.comcast.com.
Hey wt if isps are really trying to help users like showing generic search & sponsored listings both on same page…i mean y shud they prride this service for free they also wants earn something out of it……
“This is fine.
Verizon and Comcast are perfectly allowed to profit from typo’s of trademarks. They are big companies with lots of money and influence, and are therefore trusted to do this kind of thing.”
This goes against all the rules that Wipo has tried hard to set up to protect brand holders!! They shouldn’t be allowed to typo a tm unless it’s their own.
At BrandRecovery.com we see tons of these guys doing this everyday. Running amok and making a mess of business owners and their hard work in the area of brand protection.
You only exist out here because of the fact that typo squatters are able to typo squat on domain names.
So technically you’re the one profiting from typos too because you’re able to run a business that “protects” these business owners from typo squatters.
This is sadly how the world works.
So however you look at it, everyone in the industry in one way or another is profiting from this either knowingly or not knowingly.
I think people should start looking at typo squatting differently starting since 2010.
Something in this form exists wherever money is involved.
Typo squatting makes up over 90% of this industry’s revenue in one form or another. If you include companies like BrandProtect it is probably well over 95%. Being in this industry for some time, I just can’t even imagine 5% of the business being genuine.
I think typosquatting is more genuine than most other things in this world. What about lawyers, stock brokers, arbitrage (driving up prices), traders, wars, deaths, terrorist attacks, pharmacies, doctors, the list goes on. It’s corrupt from the start to end. And BrandProtect is probably more of a typo squatter than your regular typo squatter. You’re making money off of some phony “protection” service. Give me a break!
@Matt, interesting that you think my company is making money off of a “phony protection” service yet say that typo squatting is genuine, all in the same post. BrandRecovery.com services help brand owners who pour a lot of time, money and energy into building a reputation and customer base. Some of these people have worked long, hard hours sacrificing time with their families to build their business, myself included. A lot of them aren’t even aware that people would actually do this to their brand. You might not like my business or consider my company a valuable service and I am ok with that.
“If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.” Malcolm X
My personal opinion, which we are all entitled to, is that a typo squatter “acquired” a name by purposely thinking of all the different typos of a business owner’s brand and then clicked a button and registered it. How is that genuine? They know exactly what they are doing, taking advantage of someone’s good name. The dictionary definition of squatter is: a person who settles on land or occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent. Of course corruption is rampant in our society and has been forever. We can do something about it but at least admire the right people, the domainers out there who are doing something with their properties and the companies out there trying to help people out. People that benefit the whole, not just themselves and the All Mighty Quick Buck.
You must be lying to yourself then.
First off, you are profiting off a business that is profiting off another business. You are really in the same boat if not worse, it’s just a matter of perspective.
Secondly, I can definitely tell you the number of “genuine” domainers is so little you probably don’t know more than the fingers you have on your hands. That’s because most of the bigger portfolio owners have started out with either typos, the adult industry, expired traffic domains, and so on.
I’ll give you an example. Recently a “generic” portfolio owner sold a domain name. Let’s call this domain name Wives.com as an example. He sold for quite a bit it because it made hundreds on domain parking. Unfortunately, Wives.com was a typo of Wife.com. Even though it is a generic when you look at it, the revenue is not coming due to its generic nature. Most big generic owners are blinded by this fact, are quick to point out the typosquatters, yet they have more typos in their portfolios than the typosquatters.
Same goes for expired site traffic. Someone is looking for expired site traffic domains because they think there is a site on them, instead it is parked. Just because a domain is an expired site traffic doesn’t make it any different than a trademarked domain other than the fact that some person decided to file a piece of paper that the government has on record saying “domainxyz is a trademark term”.
Everyone making money in this world is after the All Mighty Quick Buck my friend. Even you are.
The only ones aren’t are the ones that are doing CHARITY FOR FREE. FREE OF CHARGE. The ones doing charity and taking 100k salaries don’t count either.
Let’s not lie to ourselves. Sheesh.
And if you are not after the almighty buck, what in the WORLD are you doing running ANY sort of business?
Go do some charity work.
IMHO, such “typosquatting”/”DNS help” these ISPs perform is “browser hijacking” (using my standard method of “definition based on actions”). A combination of my problems jover the years with Comcast’s DNS servers (including totally unresponsive DNS servers and the resolutions of domain names only after the second or third request — and using a third-party DNS server violates Comcast’s TOS, the last time I checked) — combined with the fact that Comcast regularly has “forgetten” that I have opted out of its “DNS helpers” multiple times — I was getting very angry and frustrated — especially after Comcast supposedly changed its “DNS helper” service to one that subscribers had to select (i.e., “opt-in”).
A couple of months ago, I performed a Web search with the terms ‘DNSSEC’ and ‘Comcast.net’ — and I do all I can to avoid using Google directly, taking advantage of the many “Google proxy” providers, such as Startpage.com (and Google recently blacklisted Scroogle.org) — I discovered that Comcast is actively beta-testing DNSSEC via DNS servers at ‘22.214.171.124’ and ‘126.96.36.199’ (which have proven effective so far, with the occasional delay being relatively short and tolerable).
Comcast.net also offers a Web page of DNSSEC FAQs and links to Web sites about DNSSEC. I have been happy with the results so far, and the days of being hijacked by “typosquatting” are, for now, part of my past.
I remain skeptical: I do not trust Comcast and, even if Comcast adopts DNSSEC as a standard, I will not be surprised if, despite my “opt-out” selection, I get hijacked by Comcast’s “DNS helper” service now or in the future.
The Internet, established using open standards and open software, is as safe as a dark alley. I am furious that Adobe (and many entities who know better) is pushing Flash (FLV and SWF) as “Web standards,” despite the fact that Adobe has a perverse definition of “open source” and that Adobe’s technologies and browser plug-ins are closed, proprietary, “binary blobs” that — because users are denied access to the source code — will ALWAYS post a risk.
I was recently given a notebook computer preloaded with OEM Windows 7. I will run 64-bit Debian GNU/Linux on it.
Before the Linux kernel existed, I was a “Mac enthusiast,” although I used Sun’s UNIX via the shell (which I accessed from my Macs).
I personally have relied on Linux (Debian) for almost a decade, although I respect each person’s freedom to use her/his platform of choice.
I have used Barebones’ BBEdit and Adobe’s Photoshop to create Web sites since 1989 (before graphical browsers existed). I was recently given a new MacBook Pro (Core i7) and my main client paid me for a large project in December with a nicely enhanced (RAM and video cards) Mac Pro.
Despite the positive aspects of Mac OS X 10.6.X (which are very noticeable in pure 64-bit mode), I am used to the freedom and control that Linux has given me for over ten years: Although the Mac “just works,” My local Apple dealer knew (and no doubt does not care) that if EFI and Mac OS X caused me problems with running Debian on the Mac Pro, I would choose Debian over Mac OS X. I have not had time to unpack the MacBook Pro, but — if a parallel or dual Mac OS X 10.6/Linux notebook is not feasible — I will choose freedom, although Nvidia (video card drivers) and Adobe (the Flash browser add-on) are major hurdles for optimal hardware performance (Nvidia) and basic Web usability (Adobe) on any computer: I am supportive of, and optimistic about, the ‘Nouveau’ and “Gnash’ open-source projects, but such ambitious endeavors are not for the impatience.
Plus, as others have stated, users of the Internet are at the mercy of greedy “service” provides, who apparently have no concerns that they rely upon us for their profits. Finally, the vital areas of security and privacy are under constant attack — and, to be candid, I am very pessimistic about the future.