Thousands of people accidentally signed up to cleaning public toilets, hugging stray cats and scrubbing chewing gums off the street after not reading the Terms and Conditions when signing up for public WiFi networks.
In a public experiment performed by Purple, a company which provides WiFi services at public places, the company added what it called a “Community Service Clause” to the original Terms and Conditions page. The users had to agree to the short-typed agreement before being able to surf the internet on that public WiFi hotspot.
The updated Terms and Condition agreement asked users to be available for as much as a thousand hours of community services. “The user may be be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service,” the agreement read.
The activities that signatories might have to perform included the following tasks,
- Providing hugs to stray cats and dogs.
- Cleansing local parks of animal waste.
- Cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events.
- Manually relieving sewer blockages.
- Painting snail shells to brighten up their existence.
- Scraping chewing gum off the streets.
During the two weeks of the experiment, more than 22,000 people agreed to the said terms and conditions. Purple also had set up a prize money for the one pointing out this addition on the original Terms and Conditions page. It has been reported that only one person was able to point out the issue.
The company says that it doesn’t have any plans for asking the volunteers to actually do these jobs. It said that the move was basically aimed at raising awareness about hazards not reading these Terms and Conditions may bring. “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,” told Gavin Wheeldon, the CEO of Purple.