- The Washington Times
Saturday, July 16, 2016

Starbucks said Friday that the coffee chain’s complimentary Wi-Fi will soon block X-rated websites, heeding the call of anti-porn activists who recently found similar success after urging McDonald’s to do the same.

“Once we determine that our customers can access our free Wi-Fi in a way that also doesn’t involuntarily block unintended content, we will implement this in our stores,” Starbucks said in a statement to CNN. “In the meantime, we reserve the right to stop any behavior that interferes with our customer experience, including what is accessed on our free Wi-Fi.”


Starbucks‘ announcement came the same week advocates revealed that McDonald’s recently agreed to implement porn filters at most of its U.S. restaurants in response to pleas from groups including the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Enough is Enough, a non-profit organization formed in 1994 with the goal of confronting online pornography and sexual predation.

“This is a huge victory,” Enough is Enough President Donna Rice Hughes told CNN. “We’re proud of Starbucks and McDonald’s for stepping up to the plate. Internet pornography is a public health crisis. Parents need to know which family restaurants are safe from online threats.”

Combined, Starbucks and McDonald’s have more than 21,000 locations in the U.S., with the vast majority offering customers free wireless internet access.

Terri Hickey, a spokesperson for McDonald’s, said earlier this week that the burger chain wasn’t aware of any incidents involving customers browsing adult websites on its Wi-Fi, but agreed it was worth taking action against.

“McDonald’s is committed to providing a safe environment for our customers,” she said in a statement. “We had not heard from our customers that this was an issue, but we saw an opportunity that is consistent with our goal of providing an enjoyable experience for families.”

Baristas at Starbucks, however, reportedly told Enough is Enough that they haven’t had the same porn-free experiences on the job.

“I’ve asked Starbucks employees whether they’ve had problems with customers in stores watching porn, and they’ve said, yes, that they sometimes have to tap customers on the shoulder” to close a website, Ms. Rice Hughes told the New York Post this week.

Restaurant chains including Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread and Subway had previously implemented similar porn-blocking filters on their respective Wi-Fi networks, the Post reported.

“We will vigorously continue to encourage other businesses and venues such as hotels, airlines, shopping malls libraries to filter pornography and child abuse images on publicly available Wi-Fi in order to protect children and families,” Ms. Hughes said in a statement.

When the Utah legislature declared pornography to be a public health hazard earlier this year, the author of the non-binding resolution, Republican State Sen. Todd Weiler, singled out McDonald’s for not yet blocking porn sites from its free Wi-Fi network.

“We have fast-food restaurants, some of which cater to children, who are providing free and unfiltered Wi-Fi, as well as public libraries,” Mr. Weiler said. “If a library or a McDonald’s or anyone else was giving out cigarettes to our children, we would be picketing them, and yet our children are accessing pornography on their tablets at these sites and we seem to be OK with that. It’s not OK, and it’s time that we start acting.”


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