Starbucks have finally come up with a plan to stop customers watching "adult content" in their stores
Aside from the coffee, one of the joys of cosying up in a Starbucks is the readily available supply of super-fast, free internet. One can easily spend many happy hours surfing the web and sipping from a never-ending conveyor belt of gingerbread lattes, should one feel so inclined. If we could only limit ourselves to the occasional email, the system would work perfectly. But, as with any good thing, there are some people who are apparently determined to take advantage of the generosity of coffee giants.
As useful as speedy wifi has proved, it has also opened the door to other, more nefarious activities. The price, it seems, for streaming Making a Murderer with our macchiato, is that anyone else can also watch whatever they want on the table next to you. Most of the time, this is fairly innocent. But, every so often, you might wander into a store to find someone hunched over what could generously be described as “exotic adult entertainment”, loudly blaring from tinny headphones. In short, Starbucks has had a bit of a porn problem.
The NSFW content issue is nothing new for the fast food industry. Almost as soon as free internet became a thing, the public decided to turn restaurants into dens of iniquity. Chains such as McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A all experienced similar issues with exhibitionist customers. But, while these businesses introduced new checks and balances designed to prevent clientele from accessing adult material, Starbucks have been a little slower to respond. Hence, despite committing to stamp out porn back in 2016, they have as yet been unable to resolve their issue.
Now, finally, after years of pressure from other, more family friendly coffee consumers, the business have finally announced that they have come up with an answer. This week, Starbucks announced that they will roll out a new content blocker tool on their internet, beginning next year. Though pornographic sites have always been banned in Starbucks stores, this new measure would mark the first time that the business have actively sought to block access to certain sites.
In an email sent to Business INSIDER, an unidentified Starbucks representative elaborated on the plans, revealing that, "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."
This announcement comes after years of pressure from organisations such as “Enough is Enough”, an internet safety group who have been lobbying the business for some time. At the start of the week, organisation CEO Donna Rice Hughes publicly stated her disappointment that Starbucks had failed to follow through on their 2016 promise, stating, "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."
Clearly, the new announcement marks a significant change in policy for a business that continues to be closely associated with internet usage. While Starbucks remain keen to ensure that the changes don’t have any adverse effect on their customers’ ability to access the important sites they need, it’s obvious that the current situation needed addressing. How effective the new measures actually will be remains to be seen.