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TeliaSonera puts ads over other peoples content with their Surf Open mobile content.

TeliaSonera, the cellphone provider, has a browser with which you can connect to the web called Surf Open. When you view a web page with Surf Open, you'll see a header, a matching menu footer, and advertisements from Telia in both areas - above the newspapers site. Basically - the browser removes any ads displayed on the newspapers site and inserts TeliaSonera's own ads. This pissed newspapers off enough when Surf Open launched in February that over 40 newspapers joined the boycott and disabled Surf Open browsers from accessing their content. For a while, Surf Open didn't show their own ads at all, but today they relaunched with ads again.
"The provider owns the area in the display", says Telia's Information Director Bengt Olsson to Medievärlden and adds "the newspapers haven't understood how the internet works"

"I'll assume that they misquoted him, else the man is an idiot" said Morris Packer from Expressen's mobile content to Veckans Affärer, and Anna Serner agrees with him: "That's like saying that the mailman owns your mailbox."
"Everyone realizes that it is unreasonable that a distributor - in this case Telia - should make money off of advertising space that other parties - the newspapers - have already sold. A reputable company such as TeliaSonera should surely be able to generate revenue in a more responsible manner," said Anna Serner, Managing Director of the Swedish Newspaper Publishers' Association.

For those who think that this idea is comparable to the Opera browser's advertising display or other (free) software that displays ads to stay free, keep in mind that TeliaSonera is a distributor that has customers paying to use this service, and they are locked to using this system only. What if the broadband internet that you paid for locked you to one browser and put their ads all over it, would you think that was OK?

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omerosen's picture

Just in order to rise a debate here I will take Telia's side (although I use TELE2). If a company is putting out to the market a new browser it has all the right to to what Telia did. If online newspaper are getting hurt let them develop their own browser with costume made content only for those who use their browser.
The internet is a place where the smartest survive and smart means those who can quickly adjust to technological development.

Allan1's picture

It has the right to do so, only if all they offered was a browser, or as mentioned in the original posting, if you had to pay to avoid the ads (versus seeing their ads on the free version of the browser).

I wouldn't mind if they ADDED their ads to the browser display, but they are taking over the ad space in the existing newspapers, etc. This is alteration of content. (Someone created a television version of it for sporting events, like baseball, football (both kinds), car racing, etc., where advertising banners are on the walls of the track/stadium/arena/etc. The local TV station could insert their own ads in place of those. Fairly sophisticated bit of programming, but I think it failed, for the most part).

If I went to a website showing how to fix a car engine, and they inserted an ad over a critical diagram or photo, that would be terrible! They are, in effect, censoring the internet, and saying, "Tough shit! We're the providers, and we don't care about you or what you want to see or show!"

The analogy "That's like saying that the mailman owns your mailbox." is very apt here, especially since the users are paying for the service already. If you don't mind having the mailman* open your mail, and put his own personal flyers in the envelopes, perhaps telling you to call his own phone number to get your credit card information, as opposed to the real number for the bank you use, then don't be upset by it. (Isn't that what phishing does? Do we like it?)

Like I said, if they want to use additional space on the screen for their own ads, that's fine. But if you used Spam and Phishing filters on their websites, you might not ever get to see anything, since they are hijacking the display!

As to the idea that you need to respond to new technological changes or get left behind; well, that's true in general but not always in specifics. There are people out there who have the technology to hijack your browser, your email, your PC (etc), and even your entire network - just for their own purposes. [Check out information about the Storm network.] Should they be allowed to do it, no matter what? For that matter, if I have an Uzi, should I be allowed to make a LARGE withdrawal from everyone's bank accounts?

* = generic term for male and female letter carriers.

VT's picture

a reputable company, TeliaSonera? Are you kidding?

Here in Lithuania this name is synonimto large scale corruption infrastructure.

This government owned "business" functions like a "money colletiong machine". Their philosophy is simple: everything is good if it generates profit.

The criminal behavior of this business still is waiting fpr investigation. From money laundring "projects" like UAB SONTEL, through wide spread spying with ACB/ITSS and today's scandal about falsificating of their new bulding documentation teliaSonera remains number one thread to national economy in Lithuania.

The losses and damages made by TeliaSonera to our companies makes up millions. yes, today TeliaSonera has it's own court, prosecutors, regulator, experts and all this is based on deeply corruptrd relationship.

No matter how long time it takes and no matter how much efforts it needs TeliaSonera gangsters will respond for the crimianl actions against our companies.

TeliaSonera MUST STOP SPREADING CORRUPTION AND BRIBERY IN LITHUANIA!

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