McDonald's WiFi blocks gay support websites
Mon, 10 Jan 2011 10:07a.m.
By James Murray and Dan Satherley
McDonald’s has caused controversy in the GLBT community after blocking access to gay-related websites for Wellington customers using its free WiFi service.
GayNZ.com says it has received numerous complaints from the community that sites they frequent cannot be accessed.
The complaints say GayNZ.com has been blocked, as has The Agender site for transgender people; Rainbow Youth, an advice site for young people is also blocked.
What's blocked and what's not? Click here to find out.
McDonald’s say the sites have been blocked because they are a family restaurant and content must be suitable for children, but they are prepared to review on a case-by-case basis.
What's your opinion? Should these sites be available on McDonald's free wi-fi?
3 News has sent reporters with WiFi enabled laptops to McDonald’s in Wellington and Auckland.
In Auckland our reporter tested a variety of websites. The results, shown below, are somewhat surprising. Gay dating site Bro Online was accessible, but sites offering support and advice for homosexual people were not.
The Sun Page 3
In Wellington Rainbowyouth.org.nz and Gaynz.com were both blocked. GLBT sites were not the only surprising sites to be inaccessible – familyplanning.co.nz was also unavailable.
The AIDs foundation and Bro Online were both available.
Wellington resident and open lesbian Julz Darroch told GayNZ.com she is shocked at the censorship.
Tomizone, a publicly available WiFi network popular in cafes and used by Westfield Malls, does not block content.
Our reporter was able to visit all the above websites, illegal music sharing site Pirate Bay and porn sites.
In contrast to McDonald’s, Tomizone is not a free service.
Wellington lesbian Julz Darroch is one of those expressing anger to GayNZ.com. "In this day and age it has shocked me," she says.
“Just when we think we can get used to being treated as equals in society, and in the main centres at least, something like this comes along.
“Our being lesbian or gay, or wanting to be in contact with our friends and communities, should not be an issue for the likes of McDonald’s.”
McDonald’s have sent an email response to GayNZ.com, after the website contacted them for comment:
"We're a family restaurant chain, and as part of offering this new Free WiFi service, our policy is that viewed content must be of a family friendly nature, i.e.- suitable for a child to view.
Because of this, access to a number of websites is blocked, including access to gaynz.com gambling, tobacco and adult mature content websites.
We stress that all the content of allowable sites must meet family friendly criteria. By this we mean a child cannot access a website where they can click on any content, link or third party advertisement and access sexually explicit content and images.
You will also appreciate that there are inevitably teething problems with the introduction of a new service and getting our filtering process right is one such issue."
McDonald’s say they are prepared to review GayNZ.com and other websites customers feel are unfairly blocked.
Debate on the GayNZ online forum has brought up mixed responses from users; some are unhappy with the censorship while many say the fault does not lie with McDonald’s.
“Their service will be provided by a third party ISP using a list complied by yet another company, it is not McDonald’s problem,” WestieForLife posted.
“Importantly, given the amount of adult material [on GayNZ.com] it would be remiss of McDonald’s if they didn’t block this site.”
However, some aren’t as forgiving.
“I don’t support McD’s censorship even if I understand their commercial with to fit a ‘family friendly’ profile,” Jemima posted.
Matty - Remember Me did not think the adult material argument stood up to scrutiny.
"I think it's a good story, not an overreaction," he wrote. "Rainbow Youth and other support networks' websites are being blocked by the trumpeted 'biggest free net provider in NZ'. Like they are naughty."
“You know, as a private company they have the right to censor certain pages if they want. Just because some of those pages have gay content, doesn’t; mean they’re discriminating,” SiCRa writes.
“The other point is, who gives a crap! If you want to access a gay site then go home or go somewhere else.”
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11/01/2011 11:22:05 p.m.
Think of the children... ugh! Lame excuse for everything nowdays. It all seems to be about people and their kids, tax breaks for having kids, government handouts to bring up your kids if you didn't plan your finances to have them! kids this and that. Should the government pay if I don't plan the costs of my car? So why should it pay for my off spring? this kid thing needs to stop! If anything There should be kid free areas, play grounds for adults, mc ds adult area, tax benefits for NOT having kids! Imagine an adult friendly mcd's! with no screaming, obxious children and quiet enjoyable environments... So, why does mc d's really support 'family' environments? becuase families = $ for corporations. Families are big spenders, big population = increased consumption.
11/01/2011 3:42:24 p.m.
Before this McD did not provide any wifi access. Not a boo, not a peep. Then they decide to do it, but placed restrictions on certain sites. And now they get a bad rep for it? NZ is already far lagging behind as far as internet goes, I can think of countries that have free wifi in practically every restaurant for as far back as 10 years. When a private company like McD decides to take a step forward with an initiative like this they get shot down over something petty? All we are doing is proving that we are indeed a tall poppy society. Stick your head above the parapet and it's gone.
11/01/2011 11:21:29 a.m.
As a lot of commenters are pointing out, McDonald's are a private company and have a 'family friendly' image to maintain. They are within their rights to block any site they choose. As children are likely to see whatever is being accessed in their restaurants, it would seem reasonable to treat the wi-fi service as you would if it were the Internet being used in a school where filtering is very common. This may well offend some people, however McDonald's could find themselves in a lot of trouble if any young person saw or accessed something inappropriate while in their premises. I doubt that McDonald's have deliberately targeted gay sites in particular. That they are banned is simply how the filter works. This is a free service McDonald's provides. If it's going to cause controversy then they may simply discontinue it. So if you don't like it, remember it's free and while using it you are required to conduct yourself in a manner that is appropriate for any person in a McDonald's restaurant.
11/01/2011 4:51:18 a.m.
I don't understand why people still think gay = bad. Don't teach our children that horrible idea.
11/01/2011 12:12:59 a.m.
shut up about your stinking children for once in your life. Realise there is plenty of adults out there that dont have the things. Why are our lives being dictated to because of what you want for your pesky children?
10/01/2011 10:20:24 p.m.
Let's stand back and take a look at those sites...
GayNZ.com has an advertisement for gay holiday accommodation on their homepage featuring a nude male reclining on a bed (covering what's necessary - but barely).
Rainbow Youth has an ad proclaiming "Get free condoms and lube here".
Hey, I'm all for youth finding out where to go get free condoms (and using them!!), but McDonalds' claim here is they ban things we don't generally want children to see. I think both of these ads qualify. Should it matter that the content of those sites is gay-supportive? Being pro-gay gives you a free pass to publish profanity where children might see it? The McDonalds claim is "family friendly" and a quick visit to each of these two sites instantly brought up clearly unsuitable advertising material.
Don't play the discrimination card if that's not the game.
10/01/2011 8:40:40 p.m.
The net in Mc Donalds is not free, the cost of the net in Mc Donalds is payed for by customers when they purchase burgers. If some of those customers are gay that purchase burgers then those customers should be able to look at gay websites if they wish. A gay customer that purchases burgers has as much right to look at what they want on the net as does a heterosexual parent customer who purchases burgers. Additionally these websites the GLBT are advocating for are not pornographic, they are gay community support and news sites.
10/01/2011 8:01:25 p.m.
The issue isn't that they have blocked a website, it's why they have blocked the website. This is so wrong.
10/01/2011 7:36:10 p.m.
If McDonalds doesn't support the Gay and Lesbian community, then maybe we should take our "pink" dollar elsewhere. Possibly better for one's waist and wallet anyway!!I will be sending an email to McDonalds to express my personal views regarding this, and will not be spending my “pink disposable income” at McDonalds in future.
10/01/2011 7:17:27 p.m.
All this bit@hin an moaning makes me sick! for gods sake Mcds is a family restaurant and can block what ever the hell it likes! oh yea, its free!! so stop bit@hin! if you dont like it, get your happy meal take away, piss off home, put on your leather chaps and cow boy hat, and watch what ever you like on your OWN internet!! im not homophibic just soooo very sick of all this P.C crap! and people havin a winge cos they got nothing better to do!!
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