It sounds like something out of an episode of Black Mirror but, worryingly, this is real-life – a charity in Prague is actually turning homeless people into WiFi hotspots.
The charity WiFi4Life has come up with the rather bizarre idea, ostensibly in an attempt to promote greater inclusion of the homeless while also offering free Internet access to tourists visiting the Czech capital.
Basically, the homeless person will be required to don a backpack containing a wireless router, which will come complete with a USB port to recharge the batteries of the phones of passers-by.
They’ll even be wearing a branded T-shirt, so nearby tourists know who they need to stand near in order to upload their holiday snaps to Facebook.
In return for wearing the WiFi device, the homeless volunteer will receive food, soft drinks, accommodation, clothes, pocket money and job opportunities.
The idea is being trialled in the city following an IndieGogo campaign which the organisation launched in August, claiming they wanted to raise 5,500 euros (£3,900) to “help homeless people return to a full life”.
However, many critics understandably took the view that the scheme was in very bad taste, considering it appears to exploit the poor for the benefit of the rich.
Neither that moral consideration, nor the fact that the fundraising effort was a flop, has discouraged the charity, who put in the money themselves in order to make the project a reality.
Speaking to RT, Lubos Bolececk, a member of the association, said:
We choose homeless people because they are already in the street and most of the time they have nothing to do and we want them to start working. This, to provide internet, is one of the jobs they can do.
The controversial scheme is set to run from now until 2016, which means you can expect to see people in Prague crowded around a homeless guy, just so they can check their emails on their smartphone, for the foreseeable future.