Tuesday, 24 July 2012

WiFi click-through terms and conditions

I'm a fan of free WiFi in general, and there was at least one trip where McDonald's was our only internet connection. What I don't like is that every one of them feels the need to have a terms & conditions click-through page that won't let you get online unless you agree not to do anything naughty. Even that might not be so bad if they remembered you between sessions - agree once to the T&C legal disclaimer that nobody ever reads, and then it's saved for at least a week. Would that be so bad?

There's an unspoken question here about whether the T&C page is necessary. Public hotspots block whatever sites they don't like anyway, and any other conditions either amount to "don't break the law" or "don't be a [badword]". Anybody who was going to do those things is still going to do them anyway, and the legal disclaimer is pointless in that case. I didn't read it, they certainly didn't read it, and they're not going to respect it just because they had to tick a box and click a button before getting online.

If the disclaimer is to protect the service provide (eg McDonald's) in court, will it actually do so? If someone managed to break the law on a WiFi hotspot like that, would the provider even be liable for a portion of the damages? I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I just hate losing network connection when I walk past a hotspot.
PPS - All because my phone grabs a WiFi connection and shuts off 3G until I sign in.

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