2 weeks ago

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks has announced it will prohibit users of its in-store free wifi from accessing “egregious content,” including pornographic sites. One could argue what took so long, but kudos to the company for acting now rather than later. After all, the internet safety advocacy group Enough Is Enough has put pressure on Starbucks to add blockers for years.

This type of content has actually been banned by Starbucks for years

However, the company doesn’t have blockers on its networks to keep sites with sexual content from being accessed. Customers were simply expected to obey the rule.

Enough Is Enough had finally had enough of Starbucks ignoring their persistent attempts to get the company to act and decided to circulate a petition that gathered 26,000 signatures to turn up the pressure on Starbucks’ inaction.

“Apparently, Starbucks cares more about providing paper straws to protect the environment than protecting kids and patrons on its public WiFi!” The group stated. “Starbucks broke its promise to filter pornography and child sex abuse images, despite its public announcement it would voluntarily provide safe WiFi in its restaurants nationwide…an announcement more than 2 and-a-half years ago!”

“By breaking its commitment, Starbucks is keeping the doors wide open for convicted sex offenders and patrons to fly under the radar from law enforcement […]” the petition read. “EIE is once again calling on all concerned to sign our new petition calling on Starbucks to follow through on its promise to filter.”

Starbucks has not made clear exactly how they will implement the website blocks, but a Starbucks spokesperson said, “To ensure the Third Place remains safe and welcoming to all, we have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our US locations in 2019.”

Starbucks is no stranger to controversy.

Earlier this year, Starbucks shut down all its locations for several hours to conduct sensitivity training following an incident with two black men who wanted to use the bathroom without purchasing anything, a standard company policy.

Though it’s great they are finally recognizing this problem, it’s a shame they had to be prompted so many times to make this change.

Hopefully, we can all sleep a little better knowing Starbucks locations around the country will be a little bit safer.

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