Alphabet-Funded Free NYC Wi-Fi Kiosks Stopped Due to Homeless Using it for Porn - Dispatch Weekly

September 15, 2016 - Reading time: 4 minutes

LinkNYC, a free initiative giving New Yorkers super fast Wi-Fi use and web browsing on all of its tablets is scrapping the service after 8 months because, “Some users have been monopolizing the Link tablets and using them inappropriately.

Alphabet is a Google parent company that is funded by LinkNYC through its spinoff Sidewalk Labs.

DNA, Porn and Homeless People

DNAInfo previously reported that the hubs were being used to watch porn and listen to loud explicit music.

The reality of having 400 kiosks with unlimited use of the internet saw homeless people camping outside, watching free movies, entertainment and porn.

The popularity of free Wi-Fi kiosks led to homeless people staying at the hubs, blocking off others who wanted to check bus times or city locations.

Mayor de Blasio’s well-intentioned initiative to expand to 7,500 kiosks also caused anger amongst businesspeople and community members who complained about the amount of homeless people around the kiosks.

Modernization and A Digital New York

Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

Once the announcement that New York would go digital with the kiosks, the mayor spoke hopefully about the city moving, “a couple steps closer to our goal of leveling the playing field and providing every New Yorker with access to the most important tool of the 21st century.”

The unforeseen problems of homeless people congregating around the digital kiosks and using the free Internet service for porn has led de Blasio to give LinkNYC the ok to turn off Internet browsers.

LinkNYC Statement

LinkNYC said in a statement, “The kiosks were never intended for anyone’s extended, personal use and we want to ensure that Links are accessible and a welcome addition to New York City neighborhoods.”


Photo Credit:
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Although the Link tablets do not have web browsing at present, the City and LinkNYC are working on solutions such as an Internet time limit.

The kiosks will remain usable for phone calls, maps, device charging, and access to 311 and 911.

A filtering system is meant to block out supposed inappropriate content, which has not been successful as there have been complaints of public masturbation.

LinkNYC will make changes to the system to better serve businesspeople and those who work around the kiosks.

By modifying their service to the needs of the public, the free Wi-Fi stand that gives nearly half a million people access to the fastest Wi-Fi, will continue to provide thousands of free phone calls, directions and device charging.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.