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Junkies, vagrants and porn addicts hijack New York’s free wifi

LinkNYC

“Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”, as the old adage goes. But for NYC and its LinkNYC kiosks it’s more a case of “give them free wifi and they’ll watch porn literally anywhere”.

A report from the New York Times has revealed the free-wifi-for-everyone project LinkNYC has, obviously, been totally abused by the city’s residents. The project was intended to bring nigh-on ubiquitous free wifi hotspots, phone charging points, free calling facilities and free web browsing to the streets of New York. That’s a great initiative, no question; an altruistic deed to help connect the unconnected in urban area.

But people are people. And, historically, people are great at ruining altruistic initiatives through selfishness. Whether its benefit fraud, nicking a cab from someone in the pouring rain or parking in a disabled bay; there’s a minority of people out there who are great at taking advantage of the system to the detriment of everyone else.

In this case, the NYT cited a variety of sources dishing out anecdotes on how LinkNYC was, predictably, ruined. It’s a weird hybrid case of cyber/real-world squatting, where free web facilities were reclaimed by groups of New Yorkers parked up on the street with furniture, booze and drugs to settle in to watch Netflix for hours on end.

“I don’t think anybody should be able to sit there and watch movies all day long,” said Gale Brewer, the president of Manhattan borough. “People are pulling up sofas or chairs or what have you.”

Councilman Corey Johnson also added “these kiosks are often monopolized by individuals creating personal spaces for themselves, engaging in activities that include playing loud explicit music, consuming drugs and alcohol, and the viewing of pornography.”

LinkNYC is already on the case applying filters to prevent porn addicts from broadcasting all kinds of filth in the middle of the street in the middle of the day. It’s completely removed web browsing and at night it will dim the brightness of the display and limit volume from the kiosks. There are also a couple of other things it’s trying out to stop people hogging the damn things.

The project is only seven months old, so it was inevitably going to have these teething issues. How it didn’t consider a basic porn blocker is pretty amazing though. People are weird, this was always going to happen.

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