New York hotel's WiFi placing hidden code in web pages

If you are traveling, you likely want to stay at a hotel that offers free WiFi internet access. However, it looks like at least one New York City hotel does something with their free WiFi connection that's pretty sneaky. The New York Times reports that web engineer Justin Watt recently found that when he surfed the net on the WiFi network of Manhattan's Courtyard Marriott hotel, he discovered that the websites he viewed on his laptop contained some hidden code that were not there before.

As it turns out, the hotel's WiFi network was putting in that extra code on those websites, which could be used to display ad banners. While no actual ads were seen by Watt, the hotel's WiFi network was evidently putting in ad code to sites that had no prior knowledge or permission for such activities.

The company that created this hidden code is RG Nets, which proudly describes its process on its website. The code that the company uses doesn't require that the web browser install any plug-in software but instead rewrites any website viewed on the network on the fly with a banner ad that can be placed on top, on the bottom or to the side of a regular website.

Of course, the owners of the websites that are "visited" by RG Nets' code don't get any money from these ad impressions. So far, there's no word on which other hotels or businesses might be using this technology.

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