22,000 people in the UK sign up for community service in exchange for free Wi-Fi

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Would you clean toilets for 1,000 hours in exchange for free Wi-Fi?

We often tend to overlook the T&Cs mentioned with a special asterisk sign on any product or agreement for that matter. However, next time before connecting to a free Wi-Fi you might want to make sure you check the given conditions carefully as your service provider may commit you to cleaning public toilets in exchange for free internet. One such incident was spotted recently in the UK with around 22,000 falling prey to the trick.

A UK-based Wi-Fi company, called Purple, added a “community service clause” to its regular agreement. According to a Mashable report, more than 22,000 people unknowingly signed up for 1,000 hours of free community service in the UK, in exchange for free Wi-Fi. Purple is a UK-based company that provides running Wi-Fi hotspots for brands like Legoland, Outback Steakhouse and Pizza Express.

The clause, which was deliberately situated near the end of the agreement, read:

The user may be being 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.


Report further suggest that the activity went on for two weeks—with only one person spotting the “manual labor” term in the agreement. Basically, the main motive behind this gag was to demonstrate the lack of consumer awareness when signing up to use free Wi-Fi. ALSO READ: How in-flight Wi-Fi works and everything else you need to know

Commenting on the shocking result, Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple said, “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.”

Purple officials further clarified that the prank was just carried out with an intention to raise awareness and that the company had no intention to force anyone to do the community service.

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In a recent survey conducted by Direct Line by Opinium Research online, Wi-Fi access is considered highly important to people when we talk about essential required for our day to day living. The researchers found that just under half, 48 percent, said they could comfortably go longer without seeing their family than using the internet. While 12 percent people said that they would rather do without food for longer than they could do without logging on to social media sites.

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