Most of the smartphone users don't shy away from accessing WiFi provided at malls, restaurants, and airports. While some do it just for the thrill of obtaining a freebie, many utilize such services in order to save money on data expenditure. Currently, popular entertainment platform Hotstar is running an ad-campaign asking its users to exploit complimentary WiFi offered at public places to download shows and movies. On the surface, this obsession with WiFi seems harmless, but the picture changes once we consider the fact that while signing up for a free WiFi service, most of us don't read the terms and conditions.
A British WiFi company named 'Purple' took advantage of this weakness. For a period of two weeks, the terms and conditions for anyone who accessed a Purple operated WiFi included a community service clause which read,
'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 company had announced a reward to anyone who pointed out the above clause in the T&Cs. Although a staggering 22,000 people agreed to the clause which legally bound them to perform a range of activities like cleaning toilets and painting snails, only one user spotted this clause.
Thankfully, the company is not going to enforce the clause. Its intention was never to make people clean sewers or scrape chewing gum, but to educate them about the importance of knowing what they're signing up for. The entire exercise served as a prelude to Purple's announcement that it is the first General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant WiFi provider. One of the major changes brought about by this European legislation is that companies cannot use users' personal and behavioral data without their 'unambiguous consent'. Basically, this means that the terms and conditions must be less complex and easily understandable. The GDPR guidelines will come into force on 25th May 2018 and will be applicable to countries belonging to the European Union.
22,000 people are now legally bound to clean toilets and sewers because they didn't read the WiFi terms
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