When you’re logging into a public WiFi hotspot, do you read the terms and conditions? Probably not, but you’re not alone. While it’s not clear what percentage of people aren’t reading the fine print, quite a few Britons in London recently gave up their first-born child for free WiFi, all because they didn’t read the T&C when logging in.
In a busy financial district close to Parliament, several people were asked to read and confirm their understanding of the terms and conditions to use the free WiFi at a local cafe. No big deal, right? Don’t look at anything weird, and don’t torrent or stream heavy stuff.
Also, give up your child in exchange for a latte and access to the Internet.
Those terms and conditions that went unread had a “Herod clause”, which dictated the potential web surfer could use the WiFi for free if “the recipient agreed to assign their first-born child to us for the duration of eternity”. The terms and conditions highlighting the Herod clause was up for only 30 minutes. In that 30 minutes, six people implicitly gave up their children by agreeing to the terms.
About 250 more also did, but their devices connected via automatic settings on their phones. In the child phishing scam, tech security firm F-Secure made off with an unknown amount of children, but it’s believed roughly 200 or so are indebted to them. “As this is an experiment, we will be returning the children to their parents”, the firm said.
Joking aside, the experiment was meant to highlight the disregard we have for our WiFi security. Aside from promissory children, F-Secure was also able to snag email senders and recipients, as well as text of emails sent while on that public WiFi signal. They could also identify the email password of the sender account.
So, about that small charge your carrier might want for turning your phone into a WiFi hotspot…