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McDonald's WiFi blocks gay support websites

Monday 10 Jan 2011 10:07a.m.

McDonald's WiFi blocks gay support websites

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.

 SITE

 ACCESSIBLE

 Gaynz.com

 No

 Rainbow Youth

 No

 Agender

 No

 Bro Online

 Yes

 NZDating

 No

 theartchaos

 No

 The Sun Page 3

 No

 Gay Express

 Yes

 Erotica Expo

 No

 Flickr

 Yes

 Rainbow Tourism

 Yes

 Find Someone

Yes

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.”

3 News

 

 

 
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