In 2016, Starbucks agreed to filter out pornography from its WiFi networks, but two years on and a Starbuck WiFi filter has yet to be applied anywhere other than the UK.

The 2016 promise came in response to public pressure to take action to prevent customers from abusing its free WiFi network to view pornography. While Starbucks had an acceptable use policy and prohibited the viewing of pornography on its WiFi network, there were no controls in place to prevent customers from accessing such content.

Leading the campaign for a Starbucks WiFi filter was the Internet safety group Enough is Enough. Back in 2016, as part of its Porn Free WiFi Campaign (since renamed SAFE WiFi Campaign) the group stepped up its efforts to convince big businesses to take the lead and implement filtering technology to enforce acceptable internet usage policies on their free WiFi networks. McDonalds and Starbucks were two such brands that were petitioned by the group – a coalition of 75 partner organizations.

More than 50,000 petitions were sent to Starbucks and McDonald’s in 2016, and in response, both agreed to start filtering pornographic web content on their WiFi networks. While McDonald’s acted quickly and started blocking adult content, the Starbucks WiFi filter failed to materialize. The coffee shop chain did implement a WiFi filter in its UK locations, but the Starbucks WiFi filter was not rolled out in other countries.

Since McDonalds took the lead and created a family-friendly free WiFi network, Chick-fil-A has followed suit and has implemented a WiFi filter in its 2,200 restaurants, as have many other restaurant and coffee shop chains. However, two years on and Starbucks has not made good on its promise. The lack of apparent action prompted Enough is Enough to issue a new call for the coffee shop chain to take action.

Enough is Enough Issues Fresh Call for Starbucks WiFi Filter Rollout

“Starbucks has had a tremendous opportunity to put its best foot forward in protecting its customers from images deemed obscene and illegal under the law, but they haven’t budged, despite their promise two years ago and despite the fact that they voluntarily filter this same content in the UK,” said Enough is Enough president and CEO, Donna Rice Hughes. “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.”

Despite the promise, there has been little news issued on the Starbucks WiFi filter front. “To date, no action has taken place to suggest Starbucks has moved forward with its public commitment. EIE has made repeated attempts to reach out to Starbucks executives by phone, e-mail and certified mail since 2016. Starbucks has remained unresponsive with the exception of a form letter from customer relations,” explained Donna Rice Hughes on November 26, 2018.

Enough is Enough has called for members of the public to petition Starbucks once again and demand a WiFi filtering solution be applied to prevent customers from accessing inappropriate content in its coffee shops.

Starbucks has now confirmed to Business Insider that the chain has been taking action and has been evaluating WiFi filtering solutions to determine whether they can be applied to block access to pornography without inadvertently blocking other types of content.  A solution has now been chosen at last and it will be rolled out in 2019.

WiFi Filtering Made Simple with WebTitan Cloud for WiFi

While web filters have been criticized in the past for overblocking web content, today, web filters such as TitanHQ’s WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allow fine control of Internet content thanks to highly granular controls. Blocking access to pornography, or any other category of Internet content, requires just a couple of clicks of a mouse.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi includes 53 preset categories of Internet content that can be filtered out in seconds once the solution has been implemented. Implementing WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, configuring the filter, and protecting customers (and employees) takes just a few minutes. No hardware purchases are required, and no software downloads are necessary. Simply change the DNS to point to WebTitan and controls can easily be applied.

In addition to blocking pornography, illegal content such as child pornography and copyright-infringing file downloads via P2P file sharing sites and be blocked. WiFi users will also be protected from malicious sites that download malware, phishing websites, and other web-based threats.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is highly scalable and can be used to protect multiple WiFi access points, regardless of where they are located, through an easy-to-use web-based interface. With WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, filtering the Internet and protecting customers could not be any easier.

If you run a business and you offer your customers free, unfiltered WiFi access, now is the perfect time to make a change and send a message to your customers that you are leading the fight against online pornography and are taking action to protect customers by creating a family-friendly WiFi environment.

Contact TitanHQ today for more information, to book a product demonstration, or to sign up for a free WebTitan Cloud for WiFi trial.

Managed Service providers that want to start offering WiFi filtering to clients should contact the TitanHQ MSP Alliance team to find out how WebTitan (and other TitanHQ products) can be integrated into their security stacks.