Did you agree to give away your children for free Wi-Fi?

Think twice about joining free Wi-Fi networks. Photo: Ming Xia/Flickr

Think twice about joining free Wi-Fi networks. Photo: Ming Xia/Flickr

Would you give away your eldest child in exchange for free Wi-Fi? Six families in London agreed to do so when they accepted the terms and conditions of a free Wi-Fi hotspot set up by researchers without actually reading them properly. The vast majority of us probably would have done the same, so is it about time we started reading these things properly?

While you may pay close attention to the terms and conditions when you take out a mortgage or agree to a loan, you’re less likely to do so when installing a software update or connecting to a Wi-Fi network. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Well, you may be agreeing to give away your children without knowing it.

Security and privacy researchers F-Secure set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in London that gave users access to the internet absolutely free. The only stipulation they had to agree to was a “deliberately ridiculous” one — that they would “render up their eldest child for the duration of eternity.”

According to F-Secure’s report entitled “Tainted Love: How Wi-Fi Betrays Us,” six users “decided that it was a fair exchange” and accepted the terms so that they could connect to the network. Fortunately for them, F-Secure isn’t really interested in taking ownership of their offspring.

F-Secure believes that its results “illustrate the very real problem of the modern world” — that many of us are unaware of the surveillance and intrusion into our privacy that some technologies bring.

“The problem is that people implicitly trust their technology and are not aware of the implications of that trust,” the report said. “In pursuit of free bandwidth, people are prepared to do anything as our experiment showed with its draconian terms and conditions.”

Maybe you’ll think twice about skipping past those terms and conditions and then clicking “agree” in the future.