Dirty Trick: UK Wi-Fi Provider Gets 22,000 People to Sign Up to Clean ToiletsAn internet provider taught 22,000 people a lesson in reading the small print after they agreed to cleaning toilets and other community service tasks.
When hooking up to free Wi-Fi somewhere, most people don’t pay too much attention to the terms and conditions of use.
One public Wi-Fi provider in the UK decided to find out just how little attention we give to the terms and conditions contained in service agreements, and inserted a “community service clause” into the T&C’s.
For two weeks, users who logged into the network Purple signed themselves up to 1,000 hours of community service, which could include, “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.”
Purple offered a prize to anybody who spotted the prank, but of the 22,000 people who signed up for the free Wi-Fi, just one person noticed the additions and contacted the company.
Purple says it has no intention of calling people up to carry out the community service, but wanted to illustrate consumers’ lack of awareness of what they sign up to online.
“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,” Purple CEO Gavin Wheeldon said.
The company also wanted to draw attention to its own efforts to streamline T&C’s in line with new European legislation on data protection. Purple is proud to be the first Wi-FI provider to be complaint with the new regulations, which come into force with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which all EU companies must comply with by May 25, 2018.
The regulations ban the use of long illegible terms and conditions which are full of legalese, requiring them to be provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. They also expand consumer rights over their data, giving consumers the right to obtain information about the processing of their personal data and also to demand its erasure.