22,000 Sign-up To Clean Loos In Return For Free WiFi

22,000 people agreed to carry out 1,000 hours of community service in return for free WiFi – including cleaning festival portaloos, hugging stray cats and painting snails’ shells. Purple, the intelligent spaces company, added the spoof term to the T&Cs on its own network of branded hotspots to illustrate the lack of consumer awareness of what they are signing up to when they access free WiFi.

Hidden among Purple’s usual terms and conditions for two weeks was the “Community Service Clause”: 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

All users were given the chance to flag the spoof term and win a prize. Only one person spotted the term during the two week experiment.

Fear not, Purple is unlikely to call in the community service debt, but believes that the experiment underlines an important issue. Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple, says, “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 prioritises fairness by being first WiFi provider to be GDPR compliant:

Purple is announcing today that it is the first WiFi provider to be General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant – almost a year ahead of the government’s deadline.

This legislation, which comes into force on May 25th, 2018, has been hailed as the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. It harmonises existing data privacy laws across Europe, and will reshape the way organisations approach data privacy.

Purple believes that one of GDPR’s headline rulings, the introduction of ‘unambiguous consent’ before users’ personal or behavioural data can be used for marketing purposes, is one that should be standardised across the industry now. Why wait for 2018?

Once the legislation is introduced, companies that breach consumers’ rights will be fined up to 4% of revenue, or 20 million Euros, whichever is greatest.

Gavin Wheeldon says: “We welcome the strengthening of data protection laws across Europe that GDPR will bring. Not only will it give WiFi end users more control over how their personal data is being used by companies, it will also raise the level of trust in the digital economy.

“We have acted quickly to be the first WiFi provider to be fully GDPR compliant to pass on the benefits to consumers as soon as possible. Purple’s Profile Portal means that all end users have the comfort of knowing they can control how their data is being used. And if they’re happy to hug a few stray dogs at the same time it’s a win-win.”

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Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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