VIDEO: Sprint Store Laptop Filters Out Anti-Sprint Consumerist Content

Consumerist reader Brian got bored while he was waiting for his friend to finish up a transaction at their local Sprint store. So he decided to kill time by trying out the in-store public laptop. That’s when he discovered something of interest.

Writes Brian:

My friend was wrapping up with the clerk and I thought why not leave the Company Profile for Sprint up just for kicks. But to my surprise, the store filters out just the Sprint info from Consumerist. Stories tagged Sprint end up redirecting me to their home page. The Consumerist site worked fine for other stories and other phone companies.

So instead of getting this page, he was redirected to the Sprint homepage.

Wouldn’t it have just been easier to block entirely? Or maybe they want customers to read what we write about AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile?


Edit Your Comment

  1. wrjohnston91283 says:

    Sounds like they’re blocking ALL spring content, good or bad

  2. Cantras says:

    my *guess* is that it redirects any sprint-based link to itself… but yes, probably exactly for the reason of not letting you see blogs with post titles like

  3. MacGyver says:

    Probably a security measure instituted by the Sprint IT Dept. to help prevent any internal phishing attacks; i.e. an outside hacker trying to access the inside intranet. Remember, everything corporate these days is over the intranet. Tools for activating phones, customer databases, timesheets, accounting, human resources, etc.

    • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

      You must be a much nicer person than the rest of us (hardened cynics) …

    • midniteslayr says:

      I second that. It doesn’t sound like they are trying to block all sprint content. However, what amazes me is that the laptop that is setup to show how the data network works is actually set to the Sprint internal network. This is a horrible sales technique, if it is the case.

    • MrEvil says:

      I highly doubt that. I work in corporate IT and even though we aren’t a retail business we do have computers that do get used by persons outside the company. Those systems aren’t added to our domain, and they aren’t even allowed to access the same LAN as our internal systems. It would be the same in a Sprint store (assuming their IT guys have half a brain). Any system that they’re letting the general public use is not connected to the same intranet used by their Point of Sale or management systems.

      This is exactly what it is, Sprint doesn’t want you reading all the nasty things about them on the internets while you’re in their stores.

  4. peebozi says:

    the, relatively, free market worked!!

  5. Pax says:

    That sounds like a possible case of false advertising, IMO.

    • Spellchk says:

      Its not. Its their laptop and their connection so they can filter all they want. Most importantly however…. they weren’t advertising anything.

      • Tim says:

        Nor were they selling the Internet connection. If it were something like a paid Internet cafe, it might be an issue, but it’s not.

        • halcyoncmdr says:

          The laptop is there for customers to try out the 3G connection cards and see how the speed and latency are. So in essence it is there for a “try before you buy” type of thing. This is why the laptops work off of a wireless hotspot card and not the company intranet.

          However, filtering internet content on the in-store laptop is entirely legitimate, just like installing anti-virus, and preventing access to known phishing/malware sites. There are many other websites to try out other than just The Consumerist on the laptop.

          Disclaimer: I work for Sprint in a corporate retail store.

    • halcyoncmdr says:

      How is that? The in store laptops work off of a wireless hotspot card (MiFi in 3G areas). The MiFi works just like any other mobile broadband card you would purchase from Sprint, it is not hooked up to the company intranet at all. If anything, it is the software loaded on the laptop to lock it down and prevent unauthorized changes that is doing something.

      Disclaimer: I work for Sprint in a corporate retail store.

      • minjche says:

        Not sure what Sprint’s rules are about this, but I know I’m not supposed to publicly comment about my company.

        Just a (possible) heads up.

    • kajillion123 says:

      You like stringing words together and hoping that they mean something, don’t you.

  6. quail says:

    Well, at least my Sprint smart phone allows me to view Consumerist articles about Sprint…

  7. Griking says:

    So you’re telling me that Sprint blocks access to websites and news that are negative to Sprint in their stores? I can’t believe it.


  8. bender123 says:

    Check me if I am wrong, but…

    They own the store, they own the computer and nothing says they have to provide you a laptop to play with while you wait…

    So what is the issue?

    • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

      Censorship in any form, even when warranted, is always worth bringing to the attention of others.

      You’re correct, it’s their right to block whatever they want in their stores, but doing so could be potentially misleading if someone with less technical knowledge trying to find out if they’re getting suckered into a bad plan but only finds negative information about AT&T and Verizon. If that’s the case it could be construed as unfair business practices. Like when Best Buy used to have an intranet version of their website which didn’t show the same prices as the ads on the live site which showed lower prices.

      If nothing else this is a decent example of why Net Neutrality is so important. Imagine if Comcast could do this on their network, it would be all puppies and rainbows every time you searched for anything about them and only the bad articles about competitors would come back.

      • Gulliver says:

        NO NO NO. This has nothing to do with net neutrality. I also can censor anything I want in MY business. If you are using MY connection, you will live by MY rules. If you don’t like it BUY YOUR OWN. You won’t see negative reviews of a CBS show being advertised on CBS. Why wouldn’t Sprint do have that same right.
        Would you call it censorship if I blocked child pornography as well? In my business with wifi, I have it set up for no porn. That is MY choice in MY business for the service I pay for.

        • ExtraCelestial says:

          If you put half as much energy into reading his comment as you did throwing a fit you would realize that’s not at all what he wrote.

          From the second paragraph…
          “You’re correct, it’s their right to block whatever they want in their stores”

          and also (regarding your child porn comment??)
          “Censorship in any form, even when warranted, is always worth bringing to the attention of others”

          Net neutrality was brought up as a completely separate point (thus the separate paragraph). While this itself is obviously not an example of net neutrality, it’s an example of the harm it can cause consumers if providers were given free reign to restrict unflattering information or any information as they saw fit.

  9. JeremieNX says:

    Really? People are calling this censorship? A private business has the right to restrict internet and computer access on their premises for any reason. It’s not Sprint’s responsibility to make sure you have unrestricted internet access on their property.

    This isn’t a government censoring nor is it a large corporation/lobby trying to restrict your access to information. It’s a business that wants to keep its computers and network strictly for business purposes.

    • DH405 says:

      “People are calling this censorship? A private business has the right to restrict internet and computer access on their premises for any reason.”

      Yes, that’s correct. We even have a word for that action. The word is “Censorship.”

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        Censorship only applies when the government is suppressing information from the public not deemed a state/military secret. Of which negative comments about said government policy cannot be construed as such. A private enterprise does not have to follow those rules within their confines. If they feel the need to suppress negative comments about them on their own devices, they are free to do so. If they were doing so on my device, i.e. I have a phone which Sprint provides the data access to, then you’d have something to complain about, right to the FCC. On their device, however, tough shit.

        • Sammich says:

          Suppression of any kind of information by anyone for any reason is the basic definition of censorship.

          There are certainly different types of censorship. It doesn’t need to be the government doing it, and it can be perfectly within the rights of the person/organization doing it. They all still fit that basic description and can all be described as censorship.

  10. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    Should have done a real test of their filters and did a search for porn. Then, close the lid with a picture of tubgirl open on the screen for the next surfer to enjoy…. or goatse.