- (Photo: AP Photo / Michael Conroy)
Coffee house giant Starbucks is at the center of a growing controversy in the United Kingdom over reports that the available Wi-Fi is not filtered, potentially allowing children to access explicit content.
Reports coming from the U.K. reveal that the coffee house chain was cautioned about the potential problem of kids being able to access pornographic and other explicit websites while using the Wi-Fi provided at many of Starbucks' locations worldwide.
Baroness Massey, a former chairman of the Family Planning Association, expressed her concern over the issue during a recent session in the House of Lords when she called on the government to remind both domestic and international companies that allow these types of services to take the necessary steps to protect children.
"In Starbucks, anyone can have full access to anything the internet has to offer including the most obscene websites," Massy said in a statement.
Retailers, such as McDonald's, have already taken the appropriate steps to ensure that explicit content cannot be accessed through their networks.
Massey explained that McDonald's had "told its Wi-Fi supplier that it did not want customers coming in to bring up pornographic images that people sitting on nearby tables may see."
A spokesman for Starbucks stated that they were currently working on a solution to restrict access to explicit content with BT, the company that provides the Wi-Fi signal in Starbucks in the U.K.
BT sympathized with the calls for restrictions of public internet access in retailers' stores, explaining that with free internet, there is a need to implement parental controls.
The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has joined the growing list of prominent religious leaders in the fight to curb illicit and pornographic content that is freely available to all users regardless of age.
In a statement, the Archbishop raised concerns of how to properly monitor what children are watching given that gaining access to the internet through various platforms has never been easier.
"In our modern world parents have an increasingly hard time protecting their families from online dangers and it is right that we put proper protections in place … In our society there is a growing loss of innocence caused by increased sexualization on TV, in films, music, magazines, even in the products on our supermarket shelves," Sentamu said in a statement published by the Daily Mail.