A British experiment has exposed how uninformed some people are when they agree to the terms and conditions of online services.
The Guardian reports that a team of security researchers set up a mobile WiFi hotspot in two busy London districts last June in an experiment organized by Finnish security firm F-Secure and European law enforcement agency Europol.
Before a user could connect, he or she had to sign terms and conditions that mentioned a “Herod clause,” which traded free Internet for ownership of the person’s first-born child “for the duration of eternity.”
Six people agreed.
While it’s illegal to sell children in exchange for any service in the UK, the researchers simply wanted to prove that because free WiFi is valued so urgently, it’s common for users not to read, or just rush through, the terms and conditions for such services.
The results also showed how someone could simply walk into a public place with a mobile device that acts as an Internet source and get people to agree to whatever he or she desires.
The mobile hotspot was placed in a cafe in Canada Square and then outside the Queen Elizabeth Centre.
F-Secure concluded that education regarding public WiFi needs to be increased, especially when the Internet connection comes from an unknown source.