Public Masturbators Ruined NYC’s Free Wi-Fi Kiosks For Everyone

Web browsers were disabled after numerous complaints that people were watching porn on them and jacking it.

Kiss your free WiFi machines goodbye, NYC — Getty Images
Sep 14, 2016 at 4:52 PM ET

Thanks to some people’s insatiable appetites for internet pornography, none of us can have street internet browsers anymore.

New York City proudly unveiled its wi-fi enabled LinkNYC kiosks in February, bringing residents free high-speed internet, domestic phone calls, USB chargers, and tablet for web browsing. But they also brought privacy concerns, access to porn websites, and stories of people using the kiosks as their own personal entertainment centers, pulling up chairs and watching movies (pornographic and otherwise).

After reports from New York’s premiere homeless folk-bashing periodical, the Post, on how homeless people (or those the Post assumes to be) were using the kiosks to watch porn, LinkNYC placed filters on the web browsers that restricted access to adult content, to a certain extent. They also turned the down the maximum volume at night in response to noise complaints. But there were still reports that people — yes, often seemingly homeless people — were getting hot and bothered over whatever they were watching, and then acting upon those feelings. In public. In broad daylight. Sometimes around children.

After one woman told her local Facebook group that she caught a man jerking off at (and “enthusiastically humping”) a kiosk and her story went viral, it seems that LinkNYC finally decided it was time to deactivate one of the kiosks’ most popular and problematic features: the web browser on the tablets. (Incidentally, a man police believe to be the enthusiastic humper was arrested and charged with lewdness and public exposure.)

In a statement to Vocativ, LinkNYC acknowledged there were “unexpected challenges that we need to address,” including some people “monopolizing the Link tablets and using them inappropriately, preventing others from being able to use them while frustrating the residents and businesses around them.” While the announcement didn’t specify that one of the challenges was tablets being monopolized for porn (and LinkNYC didn’t respond to questions from Vocativ about this), we can all read between the lines here.

The kiosks will still provide wi-fi, phone calls, and USB charging, and have access to 311 and 911, but the tablets’ web browsers have gone dark. While this will certainly solve the porn problem and keep our virgin eyes safe from inadvertently seeing sex videos while walking down a busy New York City street, it also means that people who needed those tablet web browsers the most — homeless people and everyone else who doesn’t have internet access — won’t be able log-on and stay “connected to the rest of reality,” as one man told Reuters.