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Tell McDonald’s and Starbucks to Keep Internet Safe for All

Thursday, February 19, 2015 @ 2:27 PM

TUPELO, Miss.American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) is partnering with the Internet safety organization Enough Is Enough® (EIE) to urge McDonald’s and Starbucks to make their open Wi-Fi connections safe for families and children.

AFA is joining EIE, which is spearheading the “Friendly Free Wi-Fi” campaign, urging industry leaders to filter their open Wi-Fi hotspots so sexual predators cannot freely browse the Internet for unsuitable and pornographic material where families interact and dine.

The two groups are urging concerned Americans to sign an online petition, which will be sent to McDonald’s and Starbucks. The “Porn Free Wi-Fi,” campaign, found online at www.friendlywifi.org, is an initiative to encourage corporate America to join the fight to prevent the Internet-initiated sexual exploitation of children, specifically requesting McDonald’s and Starbucks to lead the way in this fight by implementing pornography filters in their more than 25,000 combined restaurants in the U.S., as they do already in their U.K. stores. AFA sent an Action Alert to its one million-plus friends and supporters today.

“American Family Association is honored to join Enough Is Enough for this important initiative,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “All of us must create environments where families and children are safe from Internet predators and the dangers of pornography. Along with Enough Is Enough, we ask McDonald’s and Starbucks to be industry leaders and filter their Wi-Fi hotspots by blocking access to harmful sites in their restaurants.”

According to EIE, both McDonald’s and Starbucks were ahead of the curve in offering free Wi-Fi access to customers long before their competitors. Each corporation already pro-actively filters pornography and child pornography from its public Wi-Fi services in the United Kingdom. EIE CEO Donna Rice Hughes says McDonald’s and Starbucks should protect children the same way here in the U.S., adding that safe Wi-Fi is in alignment with both McDonald’s and Starbucks’ corporate best practices and family-friendly policies. EIE has also reported that, according to federal offices, public Wi-Fi services are increasingly being used to traffic child pornography and for the sexual solicitation of children.

“These criminal felonies are difficult to deter because of the anonymity offered by open Wi-Fi hotspots,” EIE reported. “There have also been disturbing new reports from various states, including California, Illinois, South Dakota and Georgia, of men—some registered sex offenders—viewing pornography and child pornography at McDonald’s, sometimes in the children’s play area. Additionally, children and teens are also able to access free porn through these open hotspots, even if their parents have turned on filtering for their kids’ smart phones, tablets and laptops. A conscientious and tech-savvy youth can easily bypass parental controls via a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Today, any child with unrestricted Internet access is just a click away from viewing, either intentionally or accidentally, free sexually explicit material online.”

Filtering Internet content at restaurant hot spots is not unprecedented in the U.S., EIE says. Some companies, such as Chick-fil-A and Panera Bread, do filter pornography, child pornography and other inappropriate content on their Wi-Fi networks to protect children and other patrons.

The text of the petition is as follows:

Petition to: McDonald’s and Starbucks

Whereas: Federal officials warn that open Wi-Fi hotspots—like those at McDonald’s and Starbucks—create criminal safe havens for sexual predators to operate with anonymity;

Whereas: Open Wi-Fi hotspots—like those at McDonald’s and Starbucks—are attracting pedophiles and sex offenders to family-friendly locations frequented by children;

Whereas: Open Wi-Fi hotspots—like those at McDonalds and Starbuck’s—are being used to access pornography and child pornography in the plain view of the general public including minor children;

Whereas: Both McDonald’s and Starbucks have already implemented filtering to filter access to pornography and child pornography, thereby establishing a “Friendly Wi-Fi” environment, at all of their locations in the U.K.

Whereas: McDonald’s and Starbucks both recognize their role as industry leaders who set the standards for other companies and have a unique opportunity to lead the way for other public Wi-Fi services to follow; and

Whereas: We ALL must work together to protect children from Internet pornography, child pornography and sexual predators when logged into public Wi-Fi services offered in cafes, restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, airports and theme parks across the U.S.

Therefore: I urge McDonald’s and Starbucks to exercise their corporate responsibility as industry leaders to confront these serious problems by establishing a safe “Porn-Free Wi-Fi” environment in all of your U.S. locations.

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