Let’s be honest, how many of us really read the terms and conditions when we sign up for anything? Well, 22,000 people unwittingly signed up to carry out 1,000 hours of community service in exchange for free Wi-Fi. Oops!
Public Wi-Fi provider Purple added a spoof term to its T&Cs on its network of branded hotspots to illustrate the “lack of consumer awareness” of what people are signing up to when accessing free Wi-Fi portals.
In agreeing to the spoof T&Cs, people unwittingly agreed to a “community service clause” which signed them up to clean portaloos, hug stray cats, and paint snails’ shells. Wow.
The user may be be required, at Purples 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.
Surprisingly, only one person during the two-week-long prank spotted the term.
The prank forms part of Purple’s announcement that it’s the first General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant Wi-Fi provider, falling in line with the UK government’s new legislation which comes into force in May 2018. The new GDPR laws will introduce a condition requiring “unambiguous consent” before users personal or behavioural data can be used for marketing purposes.
“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 its all too easy to tick a box and consent to something unfair,” says Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple.
Thankfully, the company has no intention of forcing anyone to clean loos or paint snail shells. What a relief.