Marriott WiFi embedded ads exposed

When you connect to a WiFi network at a hotel, have you ever wondered if that hotel is trying to profit off of that somehow? Apparently at least one has, and it's of course very likely that it might be a big trend that only an eagle-eyed Web developer would ever notice. Enter Justin Watt, who recently stayed at one of Marriott's Courtyard hotels in New York City and saw something odd when checking his personal blog.

He saw that there was some extra whitespace at the top of the page. And then he realized it was showing up on every website he visited. He figured out that the hotel was actually injecting code into every site, and found that that code was related to ad servicing. He summarized it by saying, "Imagine the U.S.P.S., or FedEx, for that matter, opening your Amazon boxes and injecting ads into the packages." Apparently a company that provides the code boasts "Web experience manipulation" as one of its features.

Obviously, users are not told this when logging onto the network. The other problem is that Marriott is potentially sapping advertising money out of other websites. As Watt put it, "Imagine the hotel delivering complimentary issues of The New York Times to every room, except some articles have been accidentally blacked out, all the ads have been cut out, and on every page there's a new ad that's been stuck on top." The New York Times tried to get a comment from Marriott but only received the runaround. It's unclear if this is a common practice within the company.

[via NY Times]