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September 16 2016

Surprise, Surprise! NYC Discovers That Its Free Sidewalk Wi-FI Is Being Hogged by Porn-Surfers

Charlotte Allen

Feb. 13, 2016, from the office of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio:

Mayor de Blasio, Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley, DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest and representatives from CityBridge today announced the public launch of LinkNYC, which is transforming the City’s old payphones into Wi-Fi kiosks to create the world’s largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network. These kiosks, called ‘Links,’ will provide New Yorkers with an incredibly fast, secure and private Wi-Fi network with a 150-foot radius, free domestic calling, two USB charging ports, a tablet for accessing the internet, and a red 911 button to contact emergency services. Overall, at least at 7,500 Links – and as many as 10,000 – will be installed across the five boroughs....

“Today New York becomes the second largest tech sector city with the fastest free Wi-Fi in the world,” said Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley. “And today is the day we take a bite out of the broadband bill for New Yorkers, at no cost to the taxpayers. With this hotspot, this city takes an important step toward a fairer distribution of broadband service. We know that low income New Yorkers, particularly African American and Latino residents, rely on their smartphones to get online. And now New Yorkers can reduce some of that broadband bill, no matter their zip code, at no cost to taxpayers, as LinkNYC kiosks begin to roll out over the city and eventually to all five boroughs. LinkNYC will simply make New York a fairer 21st Century City.”...

“Wireless internet is the key public utility for the digital age. It’s hard to overstate how revolutionary delivering free, accessible Wi-Fi to New York City’s neighborhoods will be,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

Aug. 14, 2016, from the New York Times:

After months of complaints from residents, businesses and other elected officials, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, conceded that combining unfettered internet access with free Wi-Fi was a recipe for bad behavior.

Now, yielding to complaints, the operator of the kiosks, LinkNYC network, is shutting off their internet browsers, but not their other functions, while it works out a Plan B with city officials....

Users were expected to make short stops at the kiosks. But the sites quickly attracted homeless people and other idle users who took full advantage of the unlimited access to the internet to turn the kiosks into al fresco living rooms, watching movies and playing music for hours.

“People are congregating around these Links to the point where they’re bringing furniture and building little encampments clustered around them,” said Barbara A. Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance, a business group in Manhattan....

Councilman Corey Johnson, a Democrat whose district encompasses Greenwich Village, Chelsea and part of Midtown, said police officials had asked for the removal of “several problematic kiosks” along Eighth Avenue. He said he had observed people watching pornography on the kiosk screens with children nearby.

“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,” Mr. Johnson wrote in a letter last month to officials of the city and LinkNYC.

New York Times reporter Patrick McGeehan called de Blasio's goof an example of "unintended consequences." I call it an example of: "What did you expect?" Ever been to a public library and tried to get onto one of the free computers being hogged by porn-surfers?

The only bright spot in New York's seven-month experiment with the circuses part of bread and circuses, is that the Free Wi-Fi Fiasco didn't cost the city's beleaguered taxpayers anything. LinkNYC was supposed to be funded strictly from advertising revenues.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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