Yandex Browser for the transparency of mobile subscriptions

    What is the fastest way to subscribe to a paid service from your phone? It is enough to click once on a button on a random site without reading the conditions at the bottom of the page. Today I will tell you about the problem of paid mobile subscriptions and the technology in Yandex.Browser that protects people from unrecognized expenses.

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    technology, which is the basis of mobile subscriptions, is positioned as a convenient way to pay for any digital content or services. A mobile Internet user is not required to enter additional data, send or receive SMS. It is enough to simply click on the big button on the special host of the mobile operator for a paid subscription to occur. Two examples:

    Despite the fact that such pages are located on the operator’s domains, their appearance is determined by a third-party content provider, which sells access to its content to users. In doing so, he must abide by certain rules. For example, usually you cannot hide detailed conditions and costs from the user. The specific details differ from operator to operator. But as we can see from the complaints of our users, these measures do not always save us from unconscious purchases.


    The problem of mobile subscriptions is not only in the information content of the “last mile”, but also in some participants in affiliate programs of content providers, who, under any pretext and sometimes in violation of laws, lead people to subscription pages. And industry acknowledges the existence of such a problem.

    Affiliate programs are easy to find online. And the task for partners is simple - bring potential buyers. Here, by the way, are more examples of used landing pages:

    And here is an example of the operation of one of such programs. The webmaster adds a third-party JS library to the code of his site, which redirects users of mobile devices to the subscribed page. As a result, users of the wired network see the site they are requesting, and mobile visitors in most cases are automatically redirected to the subscription page. In other words, such sites turn into the most common doorways.

    Nevertheless, partners have the opportunity to redirect users not automatically, but after conscious confirmation or familiarization with the detailed conditions. The problem is that, according to our data, most ofseveral hundred thousand known sites use the most common redirect or turn into clickers (redirected after any click on the page).

    Webmasters who deliberately posted primitive code on their site are far from the only source of traffic. According to our data, several tens of thousands of sites have already turned into “doorways” as a result of hacking. Their owners may not even guess what is happening, since often not all mobile users are redirected, but only every third. And only if he came to the site from a search engine.

    We must not forget about browser extensions, which also like to unexpectedly redirect a person to where he did not need to. And here you may be surprised, because extensions usually exist only for desktop versions of browsers, and on the desktop, as is commonly believed, people rarely use mobile Internet. Actually not rare. We know that 20% of potential subscribers come from the desktop. How is this possible? It's all about the widespread use of 3G modems. And often in offices they are used in conjunction with a WiFi router. By the way, about how we are already struggling with bad extensions, you can also read on Habr .

    Mobile subscriptions on the desktop are also dangerous because it is more difficult to find small print on large monitors.

    And nothing like that will happen.

    Complaints about random subscriptions and redirects come not only to the mobile operator, but also to us, as developers of the browser. It would be wrong to ignore them, so some time ago we started searching for a solution to the problem. First of all, we have prepared instructions that will help users to unsubscribe from services. And today we are ready to announce the next step.

    In fact, subscription to paid content occurs only on a limited number of hosts owned by mobile operators. Now, if the user is redirected to such a page, Yandex.Browser will warn and ask you to confirm your desire.

    For our team, it was important not only to protect people from unconscious spending, but also to draw their attention to the problem itself. If a person as a result thinks about mobile subscriptions and his own care, this will help him avoid problems in the future.

    We are interested in learning from the community about this problem and how to solve it.

    This warning already works in Yandex.Browser for iOS , Windows, OS X , as well as in beta for Android . In the near future we plan to roll this update to all users of the Browser.

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