Wi-Fi Provider Proves You Should Always Read Terms And Conditions With Hilarious Experiment

"Our test shows it’s all too easy for ordinary consumers to tick a box and unwittingly give up their privacy in exchange for free Wi-Fi."

Purple, a public Wi-Fi provider with offices all over the world, had a hunch people rarely (if ever) read those lengthy terms and conditions before accessing a free Internet connection, so they decided to do a fun little experiment in an effort to prove their point.

For two weeks (from June 19 – July 2, 2017), Purple added a paragraph to their terms and conditions mandating that, in exchange for Internet access via one of their thousands of branded hotspots across the globe, users agreed to carry out 1,000 hours of community service.

Per Mashable, the exact text 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."


And according to a press release also cited in the video above, Purple's hypothesis that few people ever read what they agree to was proven overwhelmingly correct. Of the 22,275 people duped in the United States and across 31 other countries, only one person person spotted the joke. To put that into perspective, that means 99.996 percent of the users failed to realize exactly what they were agreeing to.

"This test was not intended to be mean-spirited or poke fun at users. We're trying to make the point that today more than ever it is critical that consumers read the terms before signing up to use a free Wi-Fi network," Purple CEO, Gavin Wheeldon said in the press release. "What are they agreeing to, how much of their personal data are they sharing, and what license are they giving to providers to use that data?" 

He added, "Our test shows that it's all too easy for ordinary consumers to tick a box and unwittingly give up their privacy in exchange for free Wi-Fi."

As it turns out, this "test" was part of Purple's announcement that it is the first global Wi-Fi provider to comply with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – nearly a year ahead of the EU's May 25, 2018 deadline.

According to resources published by the EU, the GDPR law's purpose is to "harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy." The law also requires "unambiguous consent" before users' personal or behavioral data can be used for marketing purposes.  

"We welcome the strengthening of data protection laws across Europe that GDPR will bring, but we also plan to roll the same level of consumer transparency to our U.S. market. This initiative will give ordinary consumers more awareness of the risks involved in using free Wi-Fi," Wheeldon added. "Further, we hope it will ultimately raise the level of trust in a digital economy that is increasingly finding ways to mine and monetize our personal online behavior." 

Thankfully for those 22,275 unwitting souls Purple has no plans to enforce its joke terms and conditions, but the one person who did point out the prank will win a (yet undisclosed) prize.

Should you need to access free Wi-Fi while traveling all over the world, this interactive map shows all the Wi-Fi passwords for airports across the globe... no community service necessary.


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