New York City is insanely hot right now, which makes a recent prank even more cruel, or ingenious, depending on your perspective. Someone is going around New York, fiddling with the city’s public LinkNYC internet booths, and making them blare out ice cream van music according to social media posts and LinkNYC.
“Someone hacked the internet kiosk in front of my apartment and it’s been playing the ice cream truck song for hours,” Chelsea Hassler, vice president and editorial director at communications agency Zeno Group, tweeted on Monday. LinkNYC confirmed the incident to Motherboard, but noted that it wasn’t a hack in a technical sense.
Instead, LinkNYC told Motherboard in an email, people are using a booth’s phone app to call a number—where the person on the other end presumably plays their ice cream van music of choice—and then pressing the home button on the booth to hide the call in progress.
LinkNYC has installed over a thousand of its booths across New York, which offer free Wi-Fi and other communication services. Critics have pointed to these devices’’s potential for snooping because they include, with cameras and Bbluetooth beacons.
Notably, LinkNYC added that it has deployed a feature that disables a call after 10 minutes if callers don’t confirm they are present and using the booth. So, if the booths have been blasting out the music for hours as reported, perhaps someone is walking up and down New York making sure the devices don’t hang up. Hassler added in another tweet that several booths were affected.
LinkNYC told Motherboard that free access to its services does not mean that everyone is going to use the booths responsibly.