Britons sign away first-born children for free wifi

September 29, 2014
Several Britons agreed to give up their eldest child in return for the use of free wifi, in an experiment to highlight the dangers of public Internet

Several Britons agreed to give up their eldest child in return for the use of free wifi, in an experiment to highlight the dangers of public Internet, published on Monday.

Londoners were asked to agree to terms and conditions as they logged on to use free wifi in a cafe in a busy financial district and at a site close to the houses of parliament.

The terms included a "Herod clause", under which the wifi was provided only if "the recipient agreed to assign their first born child to us for the duration of eternity".

In the short period the terms and conditions were live, six people signed up.

"As this is an experiment, we will be returning the children to their parents," said the tech security firm that ran the experiment, F-Secure.

The experiment was aimed to highlight "the total disregard for computer security by people when they are mobile" the report said.

Germany ethical hacking company SySS built the device used in the study: a mobile wifi hotspot small enough to be carried in a handbag for around 200 euros ($254).

In just 30 minutes, 250 devices connected to the hotspot—some of them doing so automatically due to their settings.

The company was able to collect the text of emails they sent, the email addresses of the sender and recipient, and the password of the sender.

The head of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre told the study they already had reports of criminals using to steal .

"At best, your device is only leaking information about you - at worst, your passwords are being spilled into a publicly accessible space... anybody on the network can see your information," said F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan.

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Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2014
You can click "Yes" to all the miles and miles of legalese and it often doesn't count as a valid contract exactly because one can hide anything in there and make it so obscure one wouldn't catch it even if they did read it. These are "boiler plate", or unilateral contracts where the other party has no means to negotiate, and which they usually have to accept after committing to a product. As such, if the terms are found by a court to be unreasonable, they become an unconscionable contract.

People don't give a toss about them because they don't need to. If someone actually came after your firstborn for using a free wifi, you could simply flip them the bird and call the police if they insist, and sue them for fraud.

This is also why you can generally disregard any sort of EULA for computer software.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2014
http://en.wikiped...contract

While these types of contracts are not illegal per se, there exists a very real possibility for unconscionability. In addition, in the event of an ambiguity, such ambiguity will be resolved contra proferentem against the party drafting the contract language.


United Kingdom

Section 3 of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 limits the ability of the drafter of consumer or standard form contracts to draft clauses which would allow him to perform in a substantially or totally different manner than would be reasonably expected.


So in fact, the researchers were technically breaking the law by tricking people into signing their children away, and could be sued for it.

See, this is not a problem specific to computer or online security, but a problem of contract law in general. That's why laws have been made so that people wouldn't have to read through every fine print, as some would eventually not and would be abused.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Sep 30, 2014
See, this is not a problem specific to computer or online security,

I think you missed the point of the article. The point was not that people will accept any kind of contract without reading it (though tat is the most PR-worthy part of the article). The point here is that people will connect to any free wifi if it's available - whether it's legit or not.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2014
I think you missed the point of the article. The point was not that people will accept any kind of contract without reading it (though tat is the most PR-worthy part of the article).


Yes, because they have a reasonable assumption that the contract will not be unreasonable or unfair. See also: http://en.wikiped...ons_1999

The point here is that people will connect to any free wifi if it's available - whether it's legit or not.


People often have no immediate reasonable means to distinguish a legitimate free wifi from a honey pot, so they would have to always assume malice and never use free wifi, which is unreasonable.

Rather, the issue is that people don't use encrypted connections while on public unsecured networks - or that their email services don't offer it.

If you're properly firewalled and encrypted, the criminals can sniff your packets all day long and catch nothing.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Sep 30, 2014
and never use free wifi, which is unreasonable.

Why is that unreasonable? Don't use something where you aren't sure your data is protected.
As you say: if people use proper security tools then that's OK. The point of the article was to show that many people don't.

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