back to article There is a Santa! BT prises remnants of InLink from jaws of administration

BT today announced it’s acquiring the remnants of InLink Limited — a profoundly controversial outdoor adtech company — after it entered administration last month. InLink Limited operated a network of nearly 500 Wi-Fi kiosks around the UK, predominantly in London. These offered free USB charging, complimentary phone calls to …

  1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Has it come to this

    'Literally anyone could walk up and dial a number without having to prove their identity.'

    I'm quite sure there used to be things called pay phones, big red boxes that you could put real money / coins in and call someone?

    I'm guessing the new version comes with a camera that you can't turn off and requires a debit card or other traceable payment?

    Lock down your ariel. https://youtu.be/oVme87qJXbE

    1. trindflo
      Big Brother

      Re: Has it come to this

      Here in the states they have been mostly removed. The excuse given was that everyone has cell phones anyway now. When confronted with the fact that not everyone does, officials launched a campaign to provide cell phones for those that can't afford one, because of course everyone needs their electronic nanny. Free cell phones for the homeless.

      1. robidy Silver badge

        Re: Has it come to this

        In the UK they skip planning permission and can be called call boxes even with a billboard attached.

        I'd put a road sign up in front of it once the billboard is connected...road signs don't require planning either.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Has it come to this

      A normal payphone costs in the order of 60p per minute. Calls on these things are free.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Has it come to this

        "Calls on these things are free."

        I'm sure your average drug dealer could have managed the 60p a minute.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Has it come to this

          I think it is the customers who make the calls.

          1. Martin Summers Silver badge

            Re: Has it come to this

            Ah I see. Makes more sense.

      2. Gerry 3
        Facepalm

        Re: Has it come to this

        D'oh ! Payphone calls to landlines are 60p for half an hour.

  2. Teiwaz Silver badge

    A technological Solution

    This forced InLink Limited to temporarily disable all calls on booths located within the borough of Tower Hamlets, while they tried to find a technological solution to the problem.

    That's not very likely beyond monitoring every call for some sort of key word, (and 'stuff' is too much of a meta-syntactic variable to be a reliable identifier, but likely to be fairly common).

    I doubt the Police have the cash to spend staking out booths either (not likely an occupiable booth either, and a nearby portaloo that wasn't there yesterday,d be a dead giveaway).

    Possibly easier at this point to try to fix some of the social ills that contribute to drug use, rather than rely on criminalisation. but there's little political will (and even less imagination) for that bold move.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: A technological Solution

      "That's not very likely beyond monitoring every call for some sort of key word,"

      No need. the metadata would give it away.

      ie: Lots of short calls to one particular set of numbers.... Geolocate those numbers and the associated web of calls and you have your connections.

      As many others have said, the drug "problem" isn't a policing problem anyway. It's a health problem and best fixed by addressing the issues that cause people to start using (most "addicts" use drugs to get a respite from a shitty life and stop using if life improves - something that the Rat Park experiments support (there's a real addiction rate of less than 2% and that's lower than alcoholism - treatable too))

      The gang problems are best solved by taking the part away that the gangs are really about - MONEY, and again that's a public health issue - as Switzerland and Portugal have both proven. When we stop "blaming" and punishing the poor for being poor (a particularly anglo-saxon/Calvinist/fundamentalist prediliction) then things change for the better.

      I'm not advocating drug use, but by taking away the gangs customers and insane profit margins (a medical knockout dose of cocaine or heroin is worth well under 50p, with a street value upwards of 50 quid - meaning there's always someone willing to take on the risk of selling for the reward), you won't get highly profitable materials being pushed towards "new customers" (ie selling crack to schoolkids). You don't take the customers away by punishing them - that just makes things worse. This is showing in Portugal where the narcogangs have almost given up.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Damn

    Just when it looked like a little bit of the street clutter, and unwanted invasive advertising might go.

    1. Huw D Silver badge

      Re: Damn

      If the ones in Nottingham are anything to go by, the clutter is not the device, but the beggars around the bottom of it, charging their expensive mobile phones.

      1. Huw D Silver badge

        Re: Damn

        For the benefit of the downvoter, I hold a distinction between homeless people who need support and known professional beggars (one of whom had the gall to bleat to the local rag about making around £800 a week).

  4. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Bloody stupid things, They're speakerphones for a start. A public speakerphone. Really clever.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Bloody stupid things, They're speakerphones for a start. A public speakerphone. Really clever

      Judging how many people I come across using their mobiles talking loudly with volume on speaker up, resulting in others being able to hear the entire conversation from a bus length or other end of the carriage, that should not really be a hurdle for many were they conscious of how much they 'leak'.

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Yes I know its annoying, however I can't see how they get around people vandalising handsets.

      Same with the glass surround, the box which used to be near us tended to be vandalised on a regular basis.

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Back to phorm?

    At the sighting of "adtech" and "BT", that was the first thing that came to my mind

    1. The obvious

      Re: Back to phorm?

      Seems to work for google...

  6. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    Protecting a revenue stream?

    One hopes that the main reason for buying this firm is because the purchase cost is less than the expected revenue stream.

    Then again BT does have some failed enterprises on record so perhaps someone just looked at the potential lost revenue and neglected to check why the firm went bust.

  7. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Not just street advertising

    These things are snarfing every MAC address that goes past them....

    (Bluetooth and WIfi)

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Not just street advertising

      Is collecting these kind of data with no method of opting out actually legal?

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