Public WiFi can be a life saver if you're out of data, or just need to show your friend that funny YouTube video when cellular service is spotty. But how many of us actually read the terms and conditions before signing up? Well, Purple, a free public WiFi provider in the UK put this to the test some weeks ago, and to date over 22,000 people signed up to essentially do over 1,000 hours of toilet scrubbing.
The additional term was added to its legal agreement as a spoof to see how many people actually read before using the service. Only one person was able to spot this in the two weeks it had been live. The terms read as follows:
The user may be be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service. This may include the following. Cleansing local parks of animal waste. Providing hugs to stray cats and dogs. Manually relieving sewer blockages. Cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events. Painting snail shells to brighten up their existence. Scraping chewing gum off the streets.
The UK introduced a new law which will come into force in May 2018, that requires users of internet services to 'unambiguously' agree to these legal terms before providers can use their data for marketing purposes. Although Purple isn't planning on following through on these terms, it sheds light on a valuable lesson one can learn from it, as CEO Gavin Wheeldon explains:
"Wi-Fi users need to read terms when they sign up to access a network. What are they agreeing to, how much data are they sharing, and what license are they giving to providers? Our experiment shows it’s all too easy to tick a box and consent to something unfair,"
Recently, a study showed that people didn't spare a moment before jumping on free WiFi, and one in six used the service as a way to watch some explicit content. The TV series South Park had previously shed light on this as well when they added a clause to the Apple T&C's where anyone who agreed to it would be subject to some unsavory torture based on a now infamous movie franchise.