Verizon is shamelessly hijacking web browsers on its new fiber-optic internet service.
With posts to the online forums at BroadbandReports and WebmasterWorld, FIOS subscribers claim that when they carelessly mistype web addresses, Verizon redirects their browsers to its very own ad-driven search pages.
As reported by ConsumerAffairs.com, Verizon previously announced that this "service" would hit the American Midwest in June, but according to subscribers in Virginia and Maryland, it has now reached the East Coast as well.
Verizon calls this hijacking routine "Advanced Web Search":
"Verizon Online will begin the trial of a new Advanced Web Search service designed to reduce the amount of dead-end, 'no file exists' or similar error messages you see and to help you quickly find the destination web site you were seeking. If you type a nonexistent or unavailable URL (e.g., www.verizon.cmo), or enter a search term, into your browser address bar, Verizon may present you with an Advanced Web Search page containing suggested links based upon the query you entered."
This is hardly a new idea. We've seen the same trick from other ISPs, including Charter, Cox, and Earthlink. Meanwhile, top-level domain operator VeriSign tried it on an even bigger scale back in 2003, before ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) told it to cease and desist.
When we phoned Verizon to find out just how many browsers are being hijacked, a spokesman told he'd "get back to us", but he's yet to do so. It seems that Verizon does allow users to a opt-out of the, um, service. ®