Fail and You Virgin Media's UK customers are about to experience a wonderful new service that intercepts unresolvable DNS requests and redirects the user to a page full of ads and search results.
It's becoming a frequent trick that ISPs are pulling on their customers, as non-technical executives who could even put the airline industry to shame, dream up clever answers to the age old question: "How can we make more money off of this?".
In the ISP's case, some fellow in a suit who refers to his computer tower as the "hard drive" likely had the insight that Microsoft was unfairly having all the fun with these browser error pages and that, dammit, there should be a free market in error reporting.
And there's the rub. If the person who thought up this little scheme files a ticket with IT when the shortcut to Outlook on his desktop disappears and he can't figure out how to run the program via the Start menu, then you can be right sure that by and large, customers do not care about having their mistyped URLs appear as a list of ads that will eventually take them to their destination. Come to think of it, nobody cares but you. And to keep you IT types from causing too much of a stir, Virgin - and other ISPs - let you opt-out from this hijacking service.
DNS hijacking is a pretty slick way to skim some money off of the top of the internet. In fact, the San Francisco, California, based company OpenDNS makes a whole business out of it. They display ads next to mistyped search results and collect tidy profit. I suppose it doesn't say a whole lot about the visionaries in charge of OpenDNS when internet service providers are replicating their entire business model as a supplemental, shits-and-giggles revenue stream, but hey, they get points for trying.
The difference of course is that OpenDNS customers sign up for this service knowing full well that the company does this. Net neutrality guerrilla fighters recognize the tyranny when an internet service provider, who is supposed to be a benevolent life-giver, the stream from which all things free and pure flow to the homes of the masses, gives in to evil temptation and plays fast and loose with DNS responses. Oh, the horror.
You see, a free people enjoy certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and honest NXDOMAIN responses. Anything less is slavery, and if history has taught us anything, the only way to break from these shackles is to blog and Twitter about your dissatisfaction, in hopes that somebody in the government will fix it.
Yeah, net neutrality cracks me up. It's one of the many tumors that is slowly killing real liberty: the belief that if you whine about something enough and call it a right, the government will do something, and when they don't, you whine even louder, at which point the general public stops caring about your cause because Global Warming is starring in its very own movie, and dammit, nobody out-whines Al Gore.
Next: Life, liberty and the pursuit of popping a cap in a Redcoat