back to article Jammy b*stards: Admen flog chocolate bars with 'Wi-Fi-free' zones

A Dutch advertising company has set up Wi-Fi-free zones, promoting chocolate bars with what the UK's regulator would certainly rule to be illegal radio jamming. The zones consist of a large sign proclaiming no Wi-Fi within five metres, and a bench where users can enjoy some lack of connectivity, but the promotion begs some …

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  1. Silverburn
    WTF?

    I just don't get it...

    Chocolate and no wifi...what's the link?

    That when there's no wifi, it's time for chocolate?`Or that when eating chocolate, I'm supposed to remember to turn the wifi off?

    Clue meter reading zero at the moment. Maybe it needs more coffee.

    1. The FunkeyGibbon
      Meh

      Re: I just don't get it...

      If you look carefully you can see it's for Kit-Kat. Their slogan is "Have a break" so I'm guessing they are suggesting that this spot is one where you can take a break from all the things that use Wi-Fi to interrupt you. Of course it's a massively silly gimmick and I'd be tempted to take a phone call or use my 3G in that area just to piss them off....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I just don't get it...

        "Of course it's a massively silly gimmick and I'd be tempted to take a phone call or use my 3G in that area just to piss them off...." and fuck the people sitting next to me.

        Considerate!

        1. Gazareth

          Re: I just don't get it...

          "fuck the people sitting next to me"

          Be rude not to, really.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: I just don't get it...

        " Of course it's a massively silly gimmick and I'd be tempted to take a phone call or use my 3G in that area just to piss them off...."

        *old school nokia ringtone*

        HELLO???? YES I'M IN TOWN.... SITTING DOWN.. TAKING A BREAK.. EATING A KIT-KAT. YOU?

    2. Thomas 6
      Holmes

      Re: I just don't get it...

      Going with their slogan "Have a break, have a Kit Kat" I think they're saying have a break from modern life (i.e. tethered to a smartphone) and have a Kit Kat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I just don't get it...

        But they'll still want you to follow them on facepalm and twater.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

    "The use of any apparatus ... for the purpose of interfering with any wireless telegraphy, is an offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006"

    So even a portable Faraday Cage counts as 'Any apparatus' and if they set it up 'for the purpose of' Creating a Not-spot ('interfering with any wireless telegraphy' ) then its an offence?

    I'd actually like to 'take a break' with some free wifi that worked for a change.

    1. Smudger 1
      Go

      Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

      I suppose you would have to check the definition of 'apparatus'. If the definition is akin to 'an active device or process' then a Faraday cage gets a pass.

      Anyhoo, if blocking radio signals by virtue of building a large building with metal in the walls caused strict liability under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, then every shopping mall developer would be culpable. Shopping malls usually have mobile phone booster systems installed to compensate for their Faraday-cage-like construction.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

        They said the law was about intent. So a building which accidentally blocks signal would not have that.

        1. auburnman

          Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

          "The use of any apparatus ... for the purpose of interfering with any wireless telegraphy, is an offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006"

          Assuming AC's quote above is correct, it could be feasible to interpret the rules with focus on the 'interfering' part, i.e. if you're deliberately dicking around with someone else's wireless then you are breaking the law but nullifying your own connection doesn't qualify as interfering as it's your connection to do as you wish. If that's the case you could extend that to a not-spot with the disclaimer that users of the not-spot understand and consent that blocking will occur and hence no 'interference.'

          1. Electric sheep

            Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

            Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 is a UK act I think. To apply in the EU it would need to be a directive or something.

      2. Lost in Cyberspace

        Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

        Dropping my wireless router in my metal waste basket was enough to cause complaints from the family... I hadn't noticed because my PC was on Ethernet....

    2. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage? @AC

      OFCOM is the regulator, you need to read the Act. s55 is all about this:

      55 Enforcement: use of apparatus

      [OFCOM can do nasty things to you if, inter-alia]:

      (a) the use of the apparatus is likely to cause undue interference with wireless telegraphy other than wireless telegraphy falling within subsection (2) [essentially police, fire, coastguard etc];

      (b) the use of the apparatus in fact has caused, or is causing, such interference; and

      (c)the case is one where OFCOM consider that all reasonable steps to minimise interference have been taken in relation to the wireless telegraphy station or wireless telegraphy apparatus receiving the telegraphy interfered with."

      So, is it causing "undue interference" is the bit you need to consider, coupled to have reasonable steps been made to minimise its interference.

      Also, whilst not explicit (there is no definition of apparatus I can see, but IANAL, I just looked at the Act) the Act is written with the idea of broadcasting/receiving in mind. I have no idea if it would treat a Faraday cage as "receiving" a signal, and therefore be subject to it in the first place. I doubt it, or every building in London would fall under its remit.

      1. JeffUK
        Go

        Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage? @AC

        So in that case, if they're blocking wireless in a 3 metre x 3 metre box within a private building, it's probably not 'undue' interference.

        some of the telcos will let you use boosters (If you ask really nicely and wave enough money under their noses) on the strict proviso that the signal is not detectable outside of your premises

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage? @AC

        But what is 'interference'?

        The OFCOM documents are very much concerned about radio frequency interference, ie. broadcasting of a jamming radio signal, rather than the use and abuse of the communications standards that use those frequencies...

        If my AP tells your client that it is the one to connect to rather than the public hotspot AP with exactly the same SSID across the street, then I'm not causing interference with wireless telegraphy, I'm only getting you to connect to my sink hole, which is totally permissible by the 802.11 standard... Additionally, provided I don't serve a copy of the landing page and request user credentials, I also don't fall foul of any fraud and privacy laws...

        An interesting case is when (and if) my AP forces your client to switch (for example someone walks out of a cafe whilst connected to a public hotspot and walks into the bench area). It is a well known fact that client devices are very slow at switching AP's and will only go looking for a new AP when it looses signal from the AP it is associated with. This is due to most clients having basic WiFi circuitry and radio's and so only release the radio to do a channel scan when it is no longer able to communicate with the current AP/mac address.

        So I for one am very interested to know what exactly is in the box under the bench and any special features of the WiFi Not-Spot sign, as it would show just how much thought really went into this....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

      > So even a portable Faraday Cage counts as 'Any apparatus' and if they set it up 'for the purpose of' Creating a Not-spot ('interfering with any wireless telegraphy' ) then its an offence?

      Big difference between building a device that absorbs/blocks a signal from entering its interior, to building a device that radiates a signal to drown out other signals.

      Faraday shielding is rather common in electronic gadgets, if not to keep the outside world's signals out, but also to keep the device's signals in. Building such things is not only legal and encouraged, in many cases it's the only way a device would otherwise meet the EMC requirements for sale.

    4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

      The question I see looming here is who has actually used a wireless telegraph in the last decade or so..

      1. The First Dave Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

        What exactly is the difference between a Wireless Telegraph and an SMS ? (Only thing I see is that one uses a Morse key and the other doesn't.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

        > The question I see looming here is who has actually used a wireless telegraph in the last decade or so..

        I flick my Kenwood TS-120S into CW mode and use the hand-mic to tune up. Does that count?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even a Portable Faraday Cage?

      I guess the interpretation "interfering with any wireless telegraphy" meaning that telegraphy was existing prior to "any apparatus" arriving. ie if you set up a cage in a street where no one was actually using "wireless telegraphy" at that time then you would not be interfering.

  3. frank ly

    Puzzled re. legal jamming

    "Jamming is done legally to ...[do A] .., and ensure that our defence forces could cope if GPS got knocked offline, ...."

    I don't understand how the ability to perform jamming would be of any help if GPS went offline. What scenario do you have in mind here?

    Also, I thought that using a mobile phone to call in the 'detonate' command was fraught with danger (to the perpetrator and the aim of the mission) and so they used cheap old phones with no SIM card but a calendar event used for the trigger?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Puzzled re. legal jamming

      I don't understand how the ability to perform jamming would be of any help if GPS went offline. What scenario do you have in mind here?

      This probably refers to using jamming to simulate GPS failure, as in this example.

    2. AndyS

      Re: Puzzled re. legal jamming

      You've got it the wrong way round - they're not planning to jam signals IF GPS goes offline, they practice by jamming everything they can think of (eg GPS), to make sure they can cope if it goes offline. So they'll jam relevant signals over an entire operational area (or vehicle, or people, or aircraft...) during a practice, and see how well they cope.

    3. Thomas 6
      Boffin

      Re: Puzzled re. legal jamming

      I assumed they were jamming the GPS signals so that they could practice what it would be like if GPS was knocked out.

  4. tomban
    Boffin

    Four Cameras

    Please can someone explain exactly how 4 wireless cameras set on different frequencies could block the entire spectrum?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four Cameras

      They use the same band of 4 channels, and the devices don't share nicely. So the whole WiFi / ISM / Microwave-Oven / Assorted-Devices Band would be full.

      Assuming you don't have WiFi in your devide at 5GHz as well as 2.4 :)

      And what if your idea of 'taking a break' is to use WiFi for a relaxing websurf?

      1. Wize

        Re: Four Cameras

        So the area isn't WiFi free. Its flooded with WiFi to the point of unusablility.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Whatever.

    When I don't want connectivity, I simply turn off (or unplug) the connectivity electronics. It ain't exactly rocket science. Hard as it may be to believe, iFad generation, you really don't absolutely have to be connected 24/7. I go days without my cell phone even turned on, much less carried or paid attention to.

    Remember kiddies, these thingies are toys/fashion accessories. They are not tools. Tools exist to get work done, as opposed to whiling away the time.

    As a side-note ... KitKat isn't chocolate. It contains palm oil, and tastes like crap. IMO, of course.

    1. PC Paul

      Re: Whatever.

      Some people seem to get upset about _other _people_ using their own gadgets anywhere near them. This seems more like a 'come and hide from them with us' rather than a 'you're hopelessly addicted, let us remove the choice from you'.

      Now if they wanted to put up jammers in cinemas, that would be just fine with me... or snipers for particularly annoying cases.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Whatever.

        PC Paul,

        I don't approve of your suggestion to use jammers in cinemas. That would be illegal!

        However, I'm very much in favour of your idea of snipers...

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Whatever.

          That would be illegal!

          Yes, but it bloody well shouldn't be. You want to make a phone call? Leave the auditorium and go stand in the bloody foyer. If your availability is so important to the world that you cannot be out of contact for the duration of the film, what the fuck are you doing at the pictures in the first place?

          I don't think that shooting the bastards is legal either. More's the pity.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Whatever.

        >'you're hopelessly addicted

        From my observations of people in cafe's, I think many people will sit down and get their phones/toys out because they feel they have to be doing something, rather than just sit and enjoy the break - which is what the advertised Kit-Kat experience is all about.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Whatever.

      OK grandad. You stay out of the modern world and we'll keep off your lawn.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @JDX (was: Re: Whatever.)

        "OK grandad."

        Why yes, yes I am a Grandad! And happy about it :-)

        "You stay out of the modern world"

        Actually, I helped build your "modern world" (whatever the fuck that means!), and still get called in out of my pseudo-retirement, when you kids cock things up ... You have issues with that? Why, exactly? Suggestion: look within.

        "and we'll keep off your lawn."

        No lawn here. Pasture. Lawns are for bored suburbanites.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Psyx
        Alert

        Re: Whatever.

        "And it's made by Nestlé, which we should all boycott."

        There's no point getting on one's high horse about Nestle if one utilises the services of ANY large multi-national, to my mind. They all have equal or worse skeletons in their closets. It's just Nestle's has been pointed out.

      2. Fihart

        Re: Whatever.

        @ Larry

        Should read, Kit Kat made by Rowntrees, then destroyed by Nestle.

    4. Psyx
      Holmes

      Re: Whatever.

      "When I don't want connectivity, I simply turn off (or unplug) the connectivity electronics. It ain't exactly rocket science."

      That Feck you pointed that out for me! For the last few years I've been desperately trying to not reflexively respond to my 'phone's every little beep and warble and now you've let me know that I can TURN OFF WI-FI! Why did nobody tell me this before?!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever.

      "When I don't want connectivity, I simply turn off (or unplug) the connectivity electronics."

      For a man who purports to be all things untech with log cabins and sailing trips and family to keep busy etc... I am amazed at how you manage to troll post on here every single day. One might think that you're some sort of saddo office worker like the rest of us

      1. jake Silver badge

        @AC08:47 (was: Re: Whatever.)

        Everybody needs a hobby ;-)

  6. Roland6 Silver badge

    Yes it is totally legal - just read and look!

    First read the signs "No WiFi within 5 metres"

    Provided the zones are located more than 5 metres from any local WiFi access point, the wording is correct.

    Now look at the picture and this is exactly what we see, the zone/bench is located out in the street ~5metres away from buildings. Although given that this is about having a Kit-Kat we also know that there must be a second concession out of picture, serving the Kit-Kats, which could also be playing a part...

    As for the small print about blocking, well if you know your 802.11 and hence run an intruder detection/prevention system, you will know how to legally quieten WiFi clients... And if you know about antenna and signal repeaters there are ways of creating blackholes ...

    Simple really, but I suspect that also from the photo, the benches have been located away from coffee and other retail premises that would normally offer hotspot access...

    1. Mattjimf
      Facepalm

      Re: Yes it is totally legal - just read and look!

      But it's not in the street, it's in a shopping centre.

      You can see the floor plan with the list of shops behind the seats, the floor is the standard white tiles you usually find in shopping centres.

      So it may be that the centre has wifi throughout the building, meaning that regardless of where you are (outside of being in stores) there is wifi.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Yes it is totally legal - just read and look!

      Do they mean "no WiFi" or "no internet connectivity"?

      No WiFi would require screening. No connection could be done illegally by jamming, but no connectivity just requires a bunch of access points (one per channel) connected to a local switch, with no outgoing internet link. Shouldn't be illegal, it's just a local network. They could even add a local server to respond to every web query with a KitKat ad :)

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Yes it is totally legal - just read and look!

        I suggest "No WiFi" means no neighbouring public access WiFi AP's. Something that can mostly be achieved by careful selection of bench locations...

        However, what I find really interesting is given how long this campaign has been running that there seems to be no independent feedback on these not-spots from Amsterdam readers and that it is the same set of photos and basic copy that is being repeated... (please post your original snaps of you and your friends making use of one of these benchs!!)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like all advertising stunts....

    Made you look/talk.

  8. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    But as a viral ad

    It seems to be working - at least it got seen (and commented on) by all of us...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Maybe they are using jammie dodgers....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and not dodgy jammers?

  10. Juan Inamillion
    WTF?

    FFS

    "Calm down dear, it's only a commercial!"

  11. JDX Gold badge

    So a little 'booth' in the middle of a busy throughfare... hardly a peaceful environment. And of course, what about all those people (nearly all of them) who have 3G?

    Blocking WiFi, 3G and phone coverage would be better. I'd quite like pubs which had such systems, and train Quiet coaches.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: quiet coaches

        There's nothing wrong with 'quiet coaches' often when there are people standing in other carriages, there are still seats in the 'quiet coach'.

        I know my line very well and know that the only time in my hour long journey that I can actually make and hold a phone call for more than a few seconds are either whilst the train is standing at the platform in London or when I reach my destination. So I? find it useful that many will avoid 'quiet coaches' just because they are prohibited from doing something which they can't really do any way. The laugh is sitting in other carriages and hearing all the people loosing connection 30 seconds after the train departs as it heads into the first of several tunnels, then reconnecting just in time for the train to go into the next tunnel ...

      2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: quiet coaches

        I don't have any problem with people using their phones or computers silently

        I tried to use my phone silently, but they keep hanging up on me after "Hello? Hello? Are you there?"

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. cbf123

        how is it worse than talking to your neighbour?

        I have no problems with people talking on their phone on the bus/train. I have a problem with people talking *loudly* on their phone.

        Get a decent headset and a noise-cancelling mic and you can talk at a reasonable level and still understand each other.

      4. Mark Morgan

        Re: quiet coaches

        I seem to remember years ago talk of the new Pendolino's having a Faraday Cage built in to the quiet carriage. Nothing came of it probably due to cost rather than illegality. Can't find an article about that but found this later one which is interesting http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/30/faraday_train_windows/

        1. MrZoolook
          Trollface

          Re: quiet coaches

          Quote: I seem to remember years ago talk of the new Pendolino's having a Faraday Cage built in to the quiet carriage. Nothing came of it

          Well, that's the point of the cage isn't it..?

  12. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    or...

    maybe its just marketing Bullshit (tm)

  13. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Coat

    How does Bob Marley like his KitKat?

    With Jamming.

    Hmmm. Think I'd better get my coat after that 're-purposing' of an old joke. Although I am shocked that you could suggest there isn't any jamming really and the advertising poster might be a lie. I'm shocked I tell you! Advertising contains lies? Say it ain't so!

  14. Arachnoid

    I doubt very much they are blocking or jamming any frequency its more likely they just made the use of wifi black spots and a spoof sign.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      or....it's a total bluff - they haven't checked if wi-fi is available or not - they are just hoping that people who want to use wi-fi won't be "stupid" enough to sit below a big sign that says "no wifi available here"

  15. Rob Crawford

    I'm more worried about the El Reg web servers

    "but at the time of press it had not responded to our enquiries."

    So what platform are you using for the site?

  16. scot stockwell

    First, do you really think they advertisers set up jammers in a Mall without getting permission from the Mall? If the Mall have allowed it, then it is legal surely?

    Second, regarding Faraday cages. Radio interference has a specific definition. Faraday cages do not transmit signals - they do not interfere, they impede.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      @scot

      I thought that 'interference' required 'active' transmissions rather than a passive device.

      Thanks for clearing that up for me,.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why assume blocking?

    I'm not sure there was anything in the article to suggest that there's any sort of signla block at all. More likely this just works by the fact that if you want to use connectivity, you're unlikely to sit under a big sign that says the area is for people that don't want to. Is there something else to this?

    Much like apart from some inconsiderate idiots, most people don't make phone calls in silent carriages on trains, even though there's nothing technically stopping this. It works on the basis that some people are actually, occasionally at least, considerate to others.

  18. Graham Marsden
    Devil

    Blocking wi-fi legally...

    ... just get a crappy old microwave oven with poor shielding and leave it running!

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: Blocking wi-fi legally...

      ..with poor shielding..

      Or just stick a bit of duct tape over the door switch and leave it open. Far more effective. Of course when you sit down to enjoy your chocolate in peace you'll find it's a molten mess in your pocket and you may find that having hard-boiled bollocks is a tad disconcerting......

  19. Khoos
    Stop

    Dutch frequency allotment authority has been notified

    The Dutch frequency allotment authority (agentschap telecom) has been notified of this jamming (over a week ago) and has had at least one jammer disabled.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Dutch frequency allotment authority has been notified

      URL for the reference please.

      Its just that there is very little real hard facts about this other than the advertising campaign and it's message.

  20. Naughtyhorse

    hang on a moment....

    isn't telling people to put down their apples and have some chocolate a bit of a dodgy health message?

  21. zxcvbnm

    Oh come one

    It doesn't say anything about wifi jamming at all, isn't this taking things a bit too seriously? Everyone under the sun is advertising free wifi so they are saying free no wifi. Its a joke. Free wifi is now so common that not having it is worth mentioning. Ho Ho such humorous alternative thinking. A poor joke but hardly worth getting so worked up about.

  22. Andrew Jones 2
    Megaphone

    While Ofcom might very well deem such a thing to be illegal in this country - the bigger question is - would they actually bother to do anything about it should it occur?!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    3G?

    Usually, when I am using data services on the move, it is via 3G.

    Wifi relies on other people's networks. And half the time you have to pay extortionate rates to use. Even if it is 'free' it often requires a signin, such as queueing up and begging the counter person for a wifi ID.

    No freedom until 3G is blocked.

  24. Identity
    Coat

    The Shape of Things to Come?

    Imagine a world where everyone is 'on' all the time. (Get a hold of Asimov's "Buy Jupiter" or go see "Minority Report" again.) It might be nice to have a small spot where one could just be…

  25. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I thought they had cell squelchers in the Albert Hall?

  26. itzman
    WTF?

    Jamming? No necessarily

    "but the only way to achieve such blocking is, of course, to transmit a jamming signal which would in turn be illegal, or at least be sailing very close to the wind."

    Never heard of EM screening? line your cafe in foil backed plasterboard and put a fine metal mesh fence around it and its a wifi/2G/3G/4G free zone .

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had it happen to me

    Purchased one of those "SCART remote TV" boxes in the silver case.

    Turned it on, it nuked Bluetooth and Wifi so badly that the phone locked *solid* during a scan and had to have the battery taken out and replaced before it worked again.

    Saved the transmitter for posterity, as its handy to have a Wifi buster just in case someone tries to leech my bandwidth :-)

    Call it the "Ultimate Off Switch" if combined with a juiced up TV-Be-Gone and a few other goodies.

    AC but email youcannotbeserious@hotmail.com

  28. John Browne 1
    Boffin

    Most chocolate manufacturers provide portable not-spots

    Instructions:

    1) Remove foil wrapper from chocolate.

    2) Place wrapper on phone, being sure to cover WiFi antenna.

    Check phone manual for antenna location.

    3) Eat chocolate.

    Troubleshooting guide:

    If signal still gets through, turn phone off, wait, and turn it on again.

    IMPORTANT. Delay turning phone on again until all chocolate is completely eaten.

    Simples!

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