Starbucks Plans to Ban Access to Pornography Websites on Free WiFi

Starbucks will start blocking pornography viewing on its stores’ Wi-Fi starting in 2019, the company announced amid renewed public pressure on the coffee giant by an internet-safety group.

A Starbucks representative told NBC News that the viewing of “egregious content” over its stores’ Wi-Fi has always violated its policy, but the company now has a way to stop it.

“We have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our U.S. locations in 2019,” the company representative said.

The announcement was first reported by Business Insider and comes after a petition from internet-safety advocacy group Enough is Enough garnered more than 26,000 signatures.

The nonprofit launched a porn-free campaign aimed at McDonald’s and Starbucks in 2014, and it says that while McDonald’s “responded rapidly and positively,” Starbucks did not.

Starbucks said in 2016 that the company was “in active discussions with organizations on implementing the right, broad-based solution that would remove any illegal and other egregious content,” according to a statement Monday by Enough is Enough CEO Donna Rice Hughes. But they didn’t act, she said.

In a letter that Hughes said she received from Starbucks over the summer, the company vowed to address the issue “once we determine that our customers can access our free WiFi in a way that also doesn’t involuntarily block unintended content.”

Starbucks has not released details about how it plans to restrict the viewing of pornographic sites or illegal content over its Wi-Fi.

Pornhub is developing a plan work around the ban. The site is launching a new subdomain that promises to offer nudity-free “Safe for Work” content.

The page, www.pornhub.com/sfw, launched on Thursday to give Pornhub users a potential workaround when the Starbucks ban rolls out next year.

“To comply with Starbucks’ new policy, we’ve created an option that allows fans to still enjoy great content to which they are accustomed, but that is appropriate for consumption in public places,” the adult video-sharing site said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the vice president of YouPorn, a free pornographic video-sharing site and one of the 200 most-visited websites worldwide, responded by sending a memo to staff banning Starbucks products from company offices starting Jan. 1, 2019