Tax advert appears on Apple.com, Steve Jobs turns in his grave

Dodgy goings on at a small US based internet provider to blame?

A report is claiming that an advert for online tax service H&R Block has appeared on Apple.com.

The ad includes the AdChoices logo -- the triangle icon in the corner of the ad. Google explains that the AdChoices symbol appears on web pages and ads to let you know when information about your interests or demographics may have been collected or used to show you ads. These ads are supposed to be based on your interests and the types of sites you visit.

For sites that want to make money and promote themselves, Google offers the opportunity to advertise with ads by Google around the web (AdWords) or earn revenue from the website with ads by Google (AdSense).

Significantly, sites have to sign up for AdSense. We would be surprised if Apple had done so as they would have no control over the ads that are shown to readers -- next time the ad could be for Samsung.

According to ArsTechnica, a couple of readers have noticed ads running on Apple.com (notably, on their parent's machines). One noted that he saw a "bright neon green banner advertisement proclaiming: 'File For Free Online, H&R Block.' I quickly deduced that either Apple had entered in to the worst cross-promotional deal ever, or my computer was infected with some type of malware. Unfortunately, I would soon discover there was a third possibility, something much worse."

The readers looked into the issue and came to the same conclusion, it wasn't Apple promoting a tax company, but rather: "Their parents' Internet provider was somehow involved in slapping ads onto webpages as they moved over the network," writes Ars.

In both cases the internet provider was CMA Communications.

Trying to get to the bottom of the matter, Zach Henkel explained: "I pulled up the Web inspector in Chrome and examined the source of a page which had the ad. Appended to the very end of the HTML file for the webpage was a single line which called to r66t.com for a JavaScript file."

"It turned out that the R66T code didn't just add banner ads to sites that had none; it even overwrote its own ads onto high profile sites like the Huffington Post, which had plenty of ads of their own," notes Ars.

R66T (pronounced Root 66) claims it publishes targeted content and advertising to private WiFi networks, such as those in airports and hotels.

Henkel concluded that R66T was working with CMA Communications and raised it with the FCC and FTC.

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Karen Haslam

Macworld U.K.
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