Coffee Bean's 'Free WiFi' Blocks Gay Blogs

Coffee Bean's 'Free WiFi' Blocks Gay Blogs

Despite advertising the availability of free wireless internet access at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee shops, the connection comes at the cost of "technical" discrimination. Philip Minton, who runs the Unite the Fight LGBT equality blog, couldn't get internet connection at home, so he went to the Coffee Bean on 3rd and La Cienega, in West Hollywood, CA, to do his blog posting from there using their free Wi-Fi service.

Coffee Bean is another chain coffee shop, like Starbucks, with free Wi-Fi service for customers to use while sitting around drinking coffee and doing work, just relaxing, or meeting with people. When Minton set up his computer and started to go through his news feed, accessing various other blogs, he got this message:


If you can't read it, it says that Pam's House Blend is blocked due to "sexuality." (Same thing for Towleroad among others.)

It is not uncommon to experience "technical" discrimination while trying to access newsworthy sites posting stories on LGBT issues from a computer at most work places or the library; simply containing the word "gay," "lesbian,"  "homosexual" and similar key words is enough to have the sites detected. As a result, those sites or articles are blocked for the same reason DNS, the Wi-Fi source for Coffee Bean, has described above -- "sexuality."

Minton has emailed the company to inquire whether or not the sites would be blocked had he typed in "heterosexual." Most techies can vouch that it is difficult to filter out pornography, or other adult content sites, without blocking non-adult LGBT sites. Minton brings up a good point in his blog post:

"But then we reach a deeper issue. Is the LGBT population feeding the popularity of LGBT porn, thus making the "homosexual" key word more equivalent to porn than a description of who we are (though many of us hate that word), thus justifying the wingnuts arguments against us about being simply a sexually driven population? Or is it simply so many people are in the closet and make these LGBT porn sites and their corresponding key words so much more popular than we possibly could on our own? (Again, another issue there.) Or is it just downright discrimination?

"Or is it all these things?"

Until he gets to the bottom of the issue, Minton asked his Unite the Fight readers to bear with him while he "[weeds] through the "technical" discrimination. 

A call has been made to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf corporate office regarding the issue, but has not been returned.

Tags: News