No More Web Browsing On Tablets In NYC’s Free WiFi Hubs Because People Can’t Behave

Image courtesy of LinkNYC

Remember how New York City was replacing old pay-phone booths and installing free WiFi kiosks? Eight months into the project, residents will no longer be able to browse the web on the tablets in those hubs because people have been monopolizing them, and “using them inappropriately.” We all know what that means.

LinkNYC, the initiative behind the project, says in a statement that the suspension is because “some users have been monopolizing the Link tablets and using them inappropriately, preventing others from being able to use them while frustrating the residents and businesses around them.”

Yes, it’s exactly what you think, if what you think rhymes with “shmorn”: users have been “creating personal spaces for themselves, engaging in activities that include playing loud, explicit music, consuming drugs and alcohol, and… viewing… pornography,” Councilman Corey Johnson wrote in a letter to the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, which is in charge of the WiFi hubs, DNAInfo reports.

It’s not just other reports — Johnson says he has “personally observed individuals watching pornography on the kiosk screens, in view of nearby children.” Some have spotted people using overturned boxes as chairs to sit in front of the kiosks for extended periods of time, another thing that isn’t supposed to happen.

A DoITT spokeswoman told DNAInfo she was aware of the complaints, and that the department was “actively working with [LinkNYC parent company] CityBridge to evaluate potential changes in how the kiosks operate to mitigate excessive use from individuals or groups.”

The kiosks’ WiFi network “is already used more than a million times per week,” LinkNYC’s community affairs manager Ruth Fasoldt said in a statement.

“We are still in the early phase of deployment, learning how New Yorkers and visitors are using the Links and how they would like to see them improved,” she said.

As of today, web browsing will vanish on all Link tablets, while officials work with the city to explore potential solutions, including possible time limits. Everything else on the tablets will continue to work, including free WiFi, free phone calls, maps, device charging, and access to 311 and 911.

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