AT&T is injecting ads into its Wi-Fi hotspots without user permission

att money laundering fine dea at amp t
Mike Mozart/Flickr
Nothing is free, even if it seems to be at first glance. Additional advertising is being shown to users who connect to the web on AT&T’s free Wi-Fi hotspots, according to a report from Web Policy. This is definitely a gray area for violating the terms of service that users agree to when they login and connect, and it will be interesting to see what happens as more people take notice of this practice.

Basically, what’s happening is that users are seeing ads in places where they shouldn’t. In the test by Web Policy, Stanford University’s website was used, and ads that required the user to wait and ads for AT&T itself were appearing, and they most certainly didn’t belong there. They even found ads like these appearing on Federal Government websites.

The team took a look at the code and they were able to see that these ads were coming from a company called RaGaPa, a startup with the pitch to “MONETIZE YOUR NETWORK”.

These ads only show up on websites that use HTTP, as HTTPS is secure from end-to-end. Three code elements are added to the site–one main ad, a backup ad, and scripts that control the loading and display of said ads.

Attempts by other companies to monetize a network through ads have been quickly shut down, generally because of the company backing off due to backlash. It’s a weird area that may violate the FCC’s net neutrality rules, FTC’s unfairness and deception authorities, wiretapping statute, and others. Users are having at least a portion of their traffic routed through a third-party that the user has not authorized.

AT&T does have a section in its user agreement that states that it “may also enable certain technologies intended to improve your experience…” and it could be argued that these ads fall under that clause, but it seems like it would be difficult to convince anyone that intrusive ads are improving anything besides AT&T’s bottom line.


Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Movies & TV

Want free movie tickets? Beam these ads into your eyeballs for 15 minutes

Would you watch ads for 20 minutes to earn a free movie ticket? MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes bets you will, and he's launching PreShow, a new app with some pretty advanced technology, to prove it.

Browse safely and securely with Opera’s unlimited VPN on Android

Opera has added a new VPN to its Android browser, offering an easy way to keep your privacy and data locked up solid, and with no limits on usage or cost, you can keep it on all the time.

Looking to keep prying eyes at bay? Here's how to hide photos on your iPhone

People take tons of photos using their smartphones, but not all are meant to be shared or seen. Luckily, hiding photos on your iOS device is easy, whether you want to use built-in utilities or apps with added security.

Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Time to do taxes? Save up to 50 percent on H&R Block tax software this weekend

Tax season is stressful, and with new tax laws in effect this year, it's not a bad idea to get some help. H&R Block has you covered: For two days only, you can save 50 percent on its great software so you can file your taxes online and save…

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.

The new iMacs push on iMac Pro territory, but how much power do you really need?

With Apple refreshing the higher-end iMacs with newer processors and graphics cards, it moves closer to the iMac Pro. In this guide, we consider the performance, features, and help make sense of the differences between the two.

Protect your expensive new laptop with the best Macbook cases

If you recently picked up a new MacBook, you’ll want something to protect its gorgeous exterior. Here, we've gathered the best MacBook cases and covers, whether you're looking for style or protection.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

Which mid-range Nvidia Turing graphics card should you buy?

Nvidia's top mid-range cards are all solid performers, but which offers the best bang for buck? To find out where you should spend your money on your next big upgrade, we pitted the GTX 1660 vs. GTX 1660 Ti vs. RTX 2060.