WiFi Users Agree To Clean Portable Toilets

“PORTABLE TOILETS” by RubyGoes is licensed under CC BY 2.0

22,000 WiFi users in the UK have unwittingly agreed to unblock sewers by hand. They failed to read a clause placed in terms and conditions as a stunt.

Purple provides Wi-Fi services that businesses and other facilities offer as public Wi-Fi for customers. To access the connection, customers need to confirm they accept a set of terms and conditions. The company recently edited these conditions to include a clause reading:

The user may 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

More than 22,000 people agreed to the conditions during the two weeks. Further evidence that they hadn’t actually read the terms comes from the fact that the small print also offered a prize for anyone who contacted the company to say they’d spotted the offer. Just one person claimed the prize.

The good news for customers is that the company says it won’t be enforcing the clause. Instead it’s a stunt to promote that it’s the first Wi-Fi company to fully comply with new European laws on data privacy that come into effect next May. One of the new rules is that customers must give “unambiguous consent” to the use of their data.

Purple says that following the experiment, it’s rewritten its privacy policy to reduce it from 1,600 to be 260 words, increasing the likelihood people will read it and make an informed choice to agree to it.