Don't Give Your Birth Date In Exchange For Free Wi-Fi

Melbourne Airport has free Wi-Fi, which is awesome. It asks you to provide your date of birth to access it, which is not.

It's not uncommon for free Wi-Fi services to ask for an email address, and most of us know that you can always use a fake address (or add a suffix to your existing Gmail address to filter out unwanted extras). The airport sign-up page is quite explicit about the process signing you up for a mailing list.

Asking for a date of birth is less common, and more dubious. At best, you'll be condemning yourself to lots of "birthday offers" in your email. At worst, you've shared information that might be useful for identity thieves.

If you encounter this kind of request, use a fake date as well. 1/1/1900 should do nicely. It's worth reminding fellow travelling workers about this too (as well as emphasising the importance of avoiding ubiquitous and dubious 'free' Wi-Fi networks and other common mistakes).


    I've given them my email address and have never received anything.
    If anything I'm too lazy to pick my actual birthday, so just randomly click a few dates.

    I get loads of "Happy Birthday" emails on New Year's Day as that's exactly the technique I use. Maybe I should stop altering the year to make me seem 30 years older than I am though; I'm tired of getting spam trying to sell me incontinence products.

      Excellent service. Make up any address, never receive anything. But you can check received mail if you need to activate, without needing to log in. Brilliant.

    I had my identity stolen a couple of months ago. Best assumption right now is that they got access to a client database at my mobile provider. They had my driver's licence number and credit card number, and probably more; the identification I provided when I signed up. The thieves signed up for a credit card in my name - which they immediately maxed out- and even changed my address registered with the RTA. Giving a birthdate seems kind of benign compared to the info these crooks had on me.

      Every bit of information they can piece together is another hint that the data mining algorithms can use to narrow things down. Give out enough information, and they won't need direct access to your driver's licence and credit card number, they'll be able to get them with the rest of the information they have about you, and a bit of social engineering.

    Could it also be that as responsible providers of free internet they have some kind of filters in place to prevent those of certain ages from accessing websites they shouldn't?

    But yeah, let's just jump on the paranoid train, first stop "IDENTITY THEFT" followed by "UNSOLICITED EMAILS"! If a conductor asks to see your ticket feel free to sneer derisively as it's a Free Train and then proceed to scream at the top of your lungs "BIG BROTHER IS TRYING TO GET INFORMATION ON ME!! GET HIM AWAY FROM ME!! STOP WATCHING ME!!" Please make sure your arms and legs remain inside the train whilst it is in motion and don't forget to keep your tinfoil hat securely fastened at all times!

      If that was their purpose, all they would have needed is an "I am over 18" checkbox on the form. That would have been equally effective, and doesn't require users to unnecessarily expose their personal information.

        This is true, it could also be used as part of their market research to target their marketting to the age ranges that are using the service, or to give you specific ads that are applicable to someone of your age.

        It could still also be a filter, it could have various ranges not just over 18 and under 18.

          I thought it might have been a filter on Pandora but no they still censor lyrics.

      Free train? Where do you catch trains?

      Could it be that you should be set on fire and dumped in landfill?

      Wow overreaction much

      You sound more like the tinfoil wearer here

    I have an 'alias' of sorts which has his own contact details, address, and date of birth. Unless I'm doing something which seems like I'd get in trouble for fraud, I use the alias for pretty much everything.

    Seems to me I wouldn't even use my real email for this. Most likely a @mailinator account as you can make them up on the fly and not need to create them.

    I'd also suggest the Epoch is now a better year to choose for this sort of fakery, not many people from 1900 left alive, a lot of people from 1970 though.

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