Starbucks Will Crack Down On Porn Starting Next Year

The coffee giant will begin filtering out pornography on its Wi-Fi networks in 2019, following in the footsteps of other chains.

Starbucks
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The coffee giant will begin filtering out pornography on its Wi-Fi networks in 2019, following in the footsteps of other chains.

Starbucks drinkers who enjoy a little pornography with their coffee are out of luck starting in 2019.

The coffee giant plans to begin blocking porn sites on its in-store Wi-Fi networks beginning next year, Business Insider reported Thursday. Customers are already not allowed to watch porn at Starbucks locations, but the new filtering will use technology in order to physically prevent them from doing so.

“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 company told Business Insider.

Other restaurant chains, including McDonalds, have blocked such sites for quite some time, while Starbucks had said in 2016 that it was “in the process of evaluating a global protocol to address this in all of our company-owned stores.” Starbucks has of late come under pressure from the child safety organization Enough is Enough, which recently launched a petition to get Starbucks to block “porn and child sex abuse images.”

“I urge Starbucks to exercise its corporate responsibility as an industry leader to confront these serious problems by establishing a ‘SAFE WiFi’ environment in all of your U.S. locations,” the petition concluded.

Enough is Enough is headed by Donna Rice Hughes, who 30 years ago was a figure in the Gary Hart sex scandal, as dramatized in the recent movie The Front Runner.

Blocking porn on Starbucks’ Wi-Fi would seem like a no-brainer. But throughout internet history, content filtering has often been buggy and imperfect, frequently blocking content that’s not explicit and shouldn’t be blocked. In a world in which a whole lot of people work entire days at Starbucks, the content filtering, if done wrong, could get in the way of customers’ important work. This can cause trouble, as anyone has seen if they’ve ever been in a crowded Starbucks on a weekday afternoon when the Wi-Fi suddenly stopped working.

However, Starbucks told Business Insider in the story that the company tested “multiple tools, hoping to avoid accidentally blocking unoffensive sites.”

This is far from the first time Starbucks has found itself at the center of controversy. Earlier this year, after two African-American men were thrown out of a Starbucks in Philadelphia, leading to boycott threats and the company shutting down for an entire day to provide its employees with nationwide racial awareness training.