When asked to define the word “free,” a number of meanings come to mind. “Not costing any money” is perhaps the most popular Merriam-Webster definition quoted because it implies that no funds will exchange hands. When offered free Wi-Fi, however, it seems that no possession is off limits in order to make such an exchange.
According to the UK’s International Business Times, a recent experiment found that Londoners were willing to “give up their first-born child or most beloved pet just to get access to a free Wi-Fi network.” Ludicrous, yes, but here’s the experiment in a nutshell, as reported in the IB Times:
- Researchers set up a number of public hotspots in locations around London to see who would log onto the network and what information they would freely make available to those in control.
- In a 30-minute period, 250 devices connected to the hotspot.
- Those who logged in were presented with a “Terms & Conditions document” that they were asked to accept in order to gain access to the network. This included the infamous Herod Clause, obligating the user “to give up their firstborn child or most beloved pet” in exchange for free access to the Wi-Fi network. In total, the researchers saw six people agreeing to the terms and conditions before the page was shut down.
Based on these events researchers concluded “consumers carelessly use public Wi-Fi without regard for their personal privacy.” Furthermore, the study “highlights how uninformed some people are about securing their personal information.”
In today’s society one must be uber-vigilant in protecting one’s information against the prying eyes of hackers. Otherwise, the old adage goes, “Nothing in life is free.”
To read more about this experiment, see the article here.