Wi-Fi hotspots commonly found in many American coffee shops, restaurants and other popular after-school hang outs are providing kids with what they demand – free Internet access. This may help keep them connected with family or friends, in addition to sparing parents from costly data plan overages, but the complimentary Web access was proven to come with a twist in an Adaptive Mobile independent study. The adult, dating, extremist, drug, gambling and other similarly objectionable content typically blocked at home by some type of parental controls solution is easily accessible by kids at these Wi-Fi locations.
Adult Content Accessible at U.S. WiFi Hotspots
“There is little point in instituting parental controls and filters for home internet use if children are able to gain unsupervised and unrestricted access to all sorts of potentially inappropriate and harmful content in public places” Adaptive Mobile study
Adaptive Mobile performed an involved study to test the accessibility of inappropriate content at WiFi hotspots. Mystery shoppers logged on and tested the content filtering, or lack thereof, of 86 establishments in the cities of New York, Boston and San Francisco. 179 public WiFi hotspots in London, Birmingham and Manchester were also tested. The findings revealed that the filtering at the U.S. locations were much more lax when it came to adult content – in some instances it was 100% accessible.
Accessibility of adult content at free, public Wi-Fi hotspots in select U.S and UK cities.
zvelo content + context categorization engine and extensive URL database have longed helped web content filtering vendors secure WiFi hotspots. WiFi hotspot providers and the local businesses hosting this web connectivity should be aware of the legal ramifications that little to no web content filtering could present.
“In the rush to roll out their offers of free WiFi, our report shows that few [telcos, service providers, businesses] if any have considered the potential consequences to their brand and reputation if, on their premises, a customer comes across inappropriate or even dangerous content – for example a child stumbling across explicit adult content or a vulnerable person accessing a pro-anorexia website or one promoting drug use.”
Quotes and data presented were pulled from the official Adaptive Mobile report downloadable in its entirety here (registration is required): Courting trouble: Why WiFi hotspots need to be part of the safety debate.