Starbucks to Block Porn in 14,000-Plus U.S. Stores

By Emily Ward | November 30, 2018 | 11:10 AM EST

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(CNSNews.com) -- The multi-national coffee chain Starbucks, which has 28,916 shops worldwide and 14,451 in the United States, said it would provide pornography-free Wi-Fi in its U.S. stores starting in 2019. This is happening because of pressure, over many years, from a coalition led by the internet safety group Enough is Enough (EIE).

In an email to Business Insider, a Starbucks representative said the company had “identified a solution” to block porn in its U.S. stores, which it would implement in 2019 – over two years after the coffee chain initially said it would do so, and six years after it began filtering Wi-Fi in its stores in the United Kingdom.

“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,” the representative wrote to Business Insider.

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The “Third Place” refers to Starbucks’ policy that aims to make the coffee shop a place between work and home, “where everyone is welcome,” whether or not they buy anything.

Starbucks’ decision to block porn on its public Wi-Fi came a few days after EIE published a press release calling out the company for breaking its “promise,” and launched a petition that has already gathered more than 26,000 signatures.

EIE President and CEO Donna Rice Hughes told CNSNews.com that while she is “hopeful” Starbucks will follow through on its pledge, its failure to do so earlier “was very disappointing.”

“Our response is that this is good news. This is good news that we also heard from Starbucks two-and-a-half years ago,” Hughes said. “So, this time, we are going to verify that they actually do this, and we will give them a big praise and applause once they have implemented filtering, and not before.”

In the meantime, she added, EIE will “keep the pressure up” on Starbucks and work toward getting “all of corporate America” that offers free public Wi-Fi to block pornography, including the airline industry, trains, stadiums, malls and large restaurants.

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In Monday’s press release, Hughes demanded that Starbucks “do the right thing” to keep children safe.

“Protecting the innocence of children in America is even more precious than green efforts and paper straws,” she said, referencing the company’s initiative to eliminate plastic straws.

Hughes pointed out the potentially harmful impacts of unfiltered Wi-Fi on children, teens and the general public.

“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 WiFi services to access illegal child porn and hard-core pornography,” Hughes said on Monday.

“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,” she added.

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EIE has been fighting to convince Starbucks and other large companies to filter their Wi-Fi since 2014 when EIE launched its SAFE WiFi campaign. In response, McDonalds established filters in 2016. Chick-fil-A and Panera Bread have been filtering their Wi-Fi for years, according to Hughes.

The campaign is backed by several conservative organizations, including Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council.

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