99.6% of WiFi users don’t give a jot about their data


Public wifi users don’t care about how their data is used. Analysis of 30m public wifi users found 99.6% of people ignore the small print around data use. 

Interested to see if the high-profile coverage of the GDPR’s enactment last year was influencing behaviours, Purple analysed how many of their users visited the ‘Terms of Business and Privacy’ page of their WiFi login process. It was found that, in the last 12 months, almost 30 million users across Europe had logged into their platform, but only around 125,000 then went on to log into their ‘Personal Privacy Profile’. As a percentage, it amounted to 0.43% of users. 

Purple went further by looking at how long users spent looking at their ‘Terms Overview’ and whether they would then click through to read the full ‘Terms of Business and Privacy Policy’ documents. 

Tests showed that the ‘Terms Overview’ took around 19 seconds to read at an average pace and the ‘Full Terms of Business’, 77 seconds. However, analytics revealed that users begin to drop off considerably after around 15 seconds. 

The results came as a frustrating revelation for Purple given the lengths they had gone to to shorten their ‘Terms of Business and Privacy Policy’ documents. They had also converted their Overview section into plain English to ease the process for users and provide them with more control over their data. Neither endeavour, it seems, had much impact. 

Gavin Wheeldon, CEO at Purple, said, “How users behave in relation to their own data has intrigued us for some time. Just last year, we enjoyed significant coverage with a mischievous little prank we pulled when we inserted a clause into our terms and conditions committing those who signed up to our public WiFi service to 1,000 hours of community service. Of course, it wasn’t enforced but it proved that people just weren’t reading the small print.” 

An interesting set of results to also emerge from the Purple WiFi study, was the discrepancy in time spent reading T&Cs between countries. Topping the table for nations too busy to read the small print was Croatia, with the average Croat spending only 4 seconds on the page. The Welsh are almost as hasty to move on spending only 6 seconds on a page whilst their English counterparts spend a comparatively lengthy 9 seconds. The most risk averse nationalities are the Portuguese, Danish, Basques, Finnish and Czechs who all spend a full 13 seconds reading the legal stuff. 

Gavin added, “Organisations have taken significant steps in the last 12 months to protect their data, it seems the issue now lies with end-users. Something needs to shift to get people to really look at what they’re signing up for because what’s been implemented so far, isn’t working.” 


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