22,000 People Agree To Community Service In Return For Free Wi-Fi

22,000 People Agree To Community Service In Return For Free Wi-Fi
Advertising

Toilet scrubbing was just one of the tasks hidden in the fine print

Matt Vitone
  • 24 july 2017

In most major cities free Wi-Fi is as abundant as water, and though the use of public networks carries with it a number of known security risks, most of us are more than willing to sign away our digital lives for the ability to surf the web for 5 minutes at a coffee shop. But just what are we agreeing to when we sign those terms and conditions we’ve never actually read? Maybe some hard manual labor, if you were one of the more than 22,000 people in the UK who unwittingly agreed to carry out 1,000 hours of community service in exchange for free Wi-Fi.

Purple, a UK-based Wi-Fi platform, recently added a spoof “community service clause” to its terms, stating that the user may be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of hard labor. This included such alluring tasks as cleaning animal waste at local parks, manually relieving sewer blockages at festivals and events, and providing hugs to stray cats and dogs (actually, that last one doesn’t sound so bad).

Thankfully for the thousands of people who agreed to these terms, Purple has no plans to force anyone to repay their debts to society. Rather, the gesture was intended to be an experiment to highlight the lack of consumer awareness when signing up to use public Wi-Fi. During the two weeks Purple included the clause in its contract, all users were given the chance to flag the questionable clause in return for a prize. Remarkably, only one person managed to spot it over the entire course of the experiment.

“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,” said Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple.

Purple announced its findings to coincide with the announcement that it is the first Wi-Fi provider to be compliant with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The European legislation, which comes into effect in May of 2018, requires that Wi-Fi providers make their terms and conditions clear for all users. Purple says in response to GDPR and the results of its experiment, it has slashed its privacy policy from 1,600 words to 260 words, and has introduced a new “Profile Portal” which gives users information about what data is collected about them and allows them to modify their marketing preferences.

Purple

In most major cities free Wi-Fi is as abundant as water, and though the use of public networks carries with it a number of known security risks, most of us are more than willing to sign away our digital lives for the ability to surf the web for 5 minutes at a coffee shop. But just what are we agreeing to when we sign those terms and conditions we’ve never actually read? Maybe some hard manual labor, if you were one of the more than 22,000 people in the UK who unwittingly agreed to carry out 1,000 hours of community service in exchange for free Wi-Fi.

+Arts & Culture
+Brand Introduction
+cities
+Culture
+Data Protection
+Europe
+internet
+retail
+technology
+UK
+USA
+Wi-Fi

Learn About Our Membership Services

Need Research Help?
As a member you can ask us any research questions and get complimentary research assistance with a 4-day turnaround. Reports inclde stats, quotes, and best-inclass examples on research topics.
Remain Informed & Strategic
We publish several trends reports each month. By becoming a member you will have access to over 100 existing reports, plus a growing catalog of deep topical analysis and debrief-style reports so you always remain in the know.
See Trends Come To Life
Meet your peers and immerse yourself in monthly trend and innovation webinars and discounted conferences.
No search results found.