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WASHINGTON --Windstream Communications, a mid-size DSL Internet service provider, is believed to be hijacking user search queries made through the Firefox browser's search task bar, according to news reports and user comments. Windstream appears to be intercepting valid search queries entered via the Firefox tool bar, using either deep packet inspection technology or software installed on local computers by Windstream, and redirecting users to a search engine on a Windstream-owned page.

S. Derek Turner, research director at Free Press, made the following statement:

"We are still waiting for all the facts to come in, but if initial allegations are true, Windstream has crossed the line and is actively interfering with its subscribers' Internet communications. Hijacking a search query is not much different from deliberately ‘redirecting’ a user from to, and a limited 'opt-out' capability is not enough to justify Internet discrimination. This is further proof of the need for strong open Internet rules, comprehensive transparency and disclosure obligations, and a process for relief at the FCC.

"We hope the FCC will investigate Windstream's practices immediately, and move expeditiously to pass open Internet rules without loopholes allowing pernicious activity such as the alleged search engine hijacking."

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