News :: National

Au Bon Pain Blocks EDGE, Other LGBT News Content on Free WiFi

Wednesday Jan 15, 2014
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  (Source:wikipedia)

If you’re looking to catch up with the latest news from EDGE on your laptop while enjoying a croissant and hearty corn chowder, you may want to bypass national eatery Au Bon Pain.

According to reports from Boston and New York, customers using the popular chain restaurant’s WiFi are blocked from seeing websites containing LGBT and family planning content.

News of Au Bon Pain’s Internet restriction came to EDGE last week from reader Stephen Kyle in Boston, who wrote in:

"Hi - 

I was quite shocked and depressed when, today, Au Bon Pain’s wifi network blocked EdgeBoston.com.

Here is what I wrote to them today:

I love the food at your stores and have visited them for years. Tonight I had time before a meeting and so used your free wifi at Park Plaza to catch up on Internet news on my ipad. To my shock, a local news site was blocked due to "sexual preference content." Edgeboston.com is a legit news source for the gay community. Clearly you need to have your filters fixed. It is not a porn site or a dating site. It is a news site. I would hate to think other minorities seeking news about their community would have this happen in your stores. What a shame. I like Au Bon Pain so much less now.

As of this writing, the officials from Au Bon Pain have yet to reply to Kyle.

DNAinfo New York reported Wednesday a similar situation at a Manhattan Au Bon Pain when attempts to reach GLAAD’s website on the restaurant’s free WiFi resulted with a message that read: "This website is not allowed. This website is categorized as Sexual Orientation and is blocked as part of this network’s web content filtering policy."

Further attempts to gain information on either side of the abortion and reproductive rights debate using Au Bon Pain’s free WiFi were similarly thwarted. Access to ProLife.com was denied, yielding the message "This website is categorized as ’abortion’ and is blocked."

DNAInfo further reports that Maureen Shaw, editor and founder of www.sherights.com, a website that deals with issues surrounding sex education and breastfeeding, contacted Au Bon Pain when her site was blocked by the chain’s WiFi filter and categorized as "pornography."

Unlike Kyle, who reported the embargo on EDGE content, Shaw received a reply from the chain that said : "We want our cafes to be welcoming places for everyone & will do all we can to make sure every cafe holds up that standard."

"We’re not perfect, but will do our best to limit filtering as much as we can," the eatery wrote on their official Twitter account. "We take this very seriously and want to remedy it best we can."

On Monday evening, the chain made the following statement on Twitter:

"You may have seen one of our customers had issues with our WiFi today. We worked with our WiFi provider to make sure it won’t happen again."

To which Shaw responded "@AuBonPain To be fair, it was more than one customer. Interested to know exactly what steps were taken to make sure it won’t happen again."

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