Brits Unwittingly Give Up Firstborns for Free WiFi

Security experiment uses 'Herod clause' to show vulnerabilities in public hot spots
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2014 9:21 AM CDT
For Free WiFi, Brits Unwittingly Give Up Firstborns
A handful of Londoners agreed to give up their firstborn for free WiFi.   (Shutterstock)

What would you give for free WiFi? A handful of Londoners would apparently sacrifice their oldest child, according to F-Secure, a security firm that set up a public hot spot in June as part of an experiment to show how insecure public WiFi is, the Guardian reports. While connecting to the hot spot, six people agreed—no questions asked—to the "Herod clause" that the group buried in the WiFi's "Terms and Conditions," which says "the recipient agreed to assign their first born child to us for the duration of eternity" in exchange for the free service. The Guardian adds that F-Secure also could have "easily siphoned off critical data like usernames and passwords" during the experiment.

It underscores how almost no one actually reads the contracts that come with purchasing products or services: A study cited in the Washington Post and explored in more depth in the Guardian says that 58% of adults prefer reviewing a credit card bill or slogging through an instruction manual to going over online terms. But the experiment's organizers warn that a hacking device like the one they employed "could have been easily concealed in a woman's handbag and … deployed in seconds," the report cited in the Guardian notes. An F-Secure security adviser asks CBS News: "Why keep strangers off your home network but be willing to use a 'stranger's' network without protection?" For those Londoners who already gave away their kids, no worries: F-Secure writes that "we will be returning the children to their parents"—and adds that giving away kids in exchange for free stuff wouldn't be enforceable in court anyway. (In this city, your dog's poop can get you free WiFi.)

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