Orange broadband trials error hijacking

ASP: advertising service provider

Orange broadband is trialling taking advantage of address bar spelling mistakes and server errors to serve sponsored search results and contextual ads to its customers.

An Orange spokesman said the move had been made "in order to deliver a better experience to our customers". The changes, which customers have not been informed about and are running on only part of the Orange network, were noticed by Register readers last week.

Orange said: "We will be gauging customer reaction to the service and, once the trial is complete, will then make a decision on whether to roll it out to the rest of the broadband customer base."

A similar scheme was implemented by Verisign in 2003. It invoked the ire of internet developers and users because of the firm's ethically sensitive role as controller of .com and .net domains.

Orange's action is less serious, and more akin to the forwarding to MSN search results which unwitting Windows Messenger installees are subject to, but does deny access to any useful information the browser might give on the error.

Orange's customer contact page is here (though you may need to bump up your text size to read any of the numbers). ®

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