The Au Bon Pain sandwich chain responded Tuesday to complaints that it blocked its Wi-Fi users from accessing pro-choice and gay rights sites.
In a Tuesday blog post, Maureen Shaw, editor and founder of the women’s rights and issues site SheRights.com, said Au Bon Pain was “blocking pro-choice, progressive websites” on its public Wi-Fi, including SheRights itself, and the sites for NARAL Pro-Choice America and the gay rights group GLAAD.
But the Au Bon Pain Wi-Fi does not block “anti-choice sites like the Family Research Council,” Shaw wrote.
“What’s worse, they’ve incorrectly classified SheRights as ‘pornography,’” she wrote. “Huh?” “In addition to the above-mentioned sites, it apparently also blocked access to all web sites discussing the Rape Audits Bill, H.R. 7, which was scheduled for debate in Congress last Thursday,” she wrote.
Shaw said the New York City location was not the only one to turn up these results, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported. “A friend of mine in Washington, D.C. sent me screen shots with the exact same message,” Shaw said.
In a three-part tweet, Au Bon Pain responded to the complaints.
“Thank you for bringing these concerns to our attention. We take this very seriously and want to remedy it best we can,” Au Bon Pain tweeted on its official account. “Any filtering results from provider presets. We’re not perfect, but will do our best to limit filtering as much as we can. We want our cafes to be welcoming places for everyone, & will do all we can to make sure every cafe holds up that standard.”
A DNAInfo report also indicated that several sites were blocked on the Au Bon Pain Wi-Fi – across the political spectrum. A reporter for the publication said the Wi-Fi filtering software blocked sites covering both sites of the abortion debate – including ProLife.com – were blocked as being about “abortion.”
The DNAInfo reporter also tried to pull up SheRights.com and found it blocked for “pornography.” Shaw told the publication the only reason she could come up with for such a block is that the site features articles about “sexuality and sexual education and breastfeeding.”