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After Years of Pressure, Starbucks Finally Rolls Out Plan to Block Porn from Its Public Wi-Fi

12-04-2018

Beginning next year, Starbucks customers will no longer be able to access illicit online material when connecting to Wi-Fi at the company's 29,000 US coffee shops.

Business Insider reports the coffee giant has unveiled plans to introduce a new tool meant to prevent patrons from viewing pornography or other explicit content.

"While it rarely occurs, the use of Starbucks public Wi-Fi to view illegal or egregious content is not, nor has it ever been, permitted," the company told Business Insider via email. "To ensure the Third Place (Starbucks) remains safe and welcoming to all, we have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores."

The Seattle-based company has not released details about how it plans to restrict the viewing of pornographic sites or illegal content but said the company tested multiple tools, hoping to avoid accidentally blocking inoffensive sites.

Starbucks' Nov. 28 announcement comes after years of pressure from the internet safety advocacy group Enough Is Enough, Business Insider reports. In its latest attempt to hold the coffee giant accountable, EIE launched an online petition calling on the company to follow through on its 2016 anti-porn pledge.

They point out that while Starbucks blocked porn from its UK stores six years ago, the company has seemingly been dragging its feet when it comes to implementing safeguards at its US locations.

The situation, EIE noted earlier this week, requires urgent attention given that open Wi-Fi is increasingly used in child sex trafficking.

"By breaking its commitment, Starbucks is keeping the doors wide open for convicted sex offenders and others to fly under the radar from law enforcement and use free, public Wi-Fi services to access illegal child porn and hard-core pornography," Enough Is Enough CEO Donna Rice Hughes charged.

"Having unfiltered hotspots also allows children and teens to easily bypass filters and other parental control tools set up by their parents on their smart phones, tablets, and laptops," Hughes added.

As of Tuesday, the EIE petition had garnered approximately 27,379 signatures.

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