There is an interesting story about a company named Paxfire which has been accused of “hijacking” search results by placing a proxy server between users and major search engines and modifying some responses. However once discovered, Paxfire and one of its customers, RCN, were soon hit with a class-action lawsuit claiming that the use of search hijacking violated the “Wiretap Act”, as well as the consumer protection laws, and RCN’s own contractual obligations.
As here is something to think about as more and more of life is based upon Google ™ there appears to be a growing risk we may not be getting the real McCoy as how do you know that your search results are actually reasonably unbiased. As even Google weights the responses so you will never fully see an unbiased list, yet in fairness you know this is the case when you press the search button, however what if you didn’t?
As internet search shapes our life with the likes of Google ™, Yahoo ™ and others entering the lexicon of not only Americana, however a lexicon on a global scale. As could you even imagine trying to find something on the internet without one of these indexing giants to assist you? Wow those where the days of t old with “gopher” and the like which people type command line code into a console screen somewhat a kin to a voodoo doctor tossing the ashes of a dead chicken and chanting.
However Paxfire has fired back with a countersuit, charging the lead plaintiff, Betsy Feist, with slander, libel, and tortious interference with its business relationships. Here Paxfire strenuously attempts to deny that it shares user information with third parties. It argues that its actions don’t constitute interception of user communications under wiretapping law (interesting) and that users consented to Paxfire’s activities when they signed RCN’s acceptable use policy. With all of that said, Paxfire asked the court to award it compensatory and punitive damages of at least $50 million from Mrs. Feist. Wow isn’t the legal system a great thing?
Yet folks joking aside this is one case to watch as if Paxfire wins, it will open the flood gates for phony proxies and the like to snag your traffic as this will mean your searches are basically fair game. As what is at issue is that firstly someone is looking at what your sending, secondly someone is now shaping your “response” which is double scary as pointed out they have had to look at it to determine how to shape it and third the response is a fake. I guess if you can’t trust your internet search provider, then who can you trust…