U.K. WiFi provider dupes customers with ‘terms’ binding them to volunteer

Unwitting WiFi users in the United Kingdom agreed to clean out public toilets and unclog sewers as part of a gag by the WiFi provider Purple. Photo courtesy Purple

July 16 (UPI) — Unwitting customers in the United Kingdom who didn’t read the terms and conditions for use of a public WiFi hotspot agreed to perform 1,000 hours of community service, including unclogging sewers and scraping gum off the street.

The gag was conceived by WiFi provider Purple. The company inserted the clause into its terms and conditions — the technically legally binding agreement consumers approve in exchange for use of free Internet, though virtually few actually read the terms. The company said it did so to call attention to the fact consumers are regularly agreeing to terms that they may not actually like, including granting access to private information and data about their web browsing habits.

“WiFi 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 in a news release.

The full list of tasks included in the community service clause 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 and scraping chewing gum off the streets.

In addition to the clause, Purple also said it would give a prize to any customer who actually read the terms and conditions and found the joke hidden therein. The Guardian reported just one person claimed the prize.


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