Westfield Mall’s Free Wifi in San Francisco blocks Adult Content – Including Lingerie stores that are IN WESTFIELD MALL

So check this out… Westfield Mall in San Francisco is nice enough to provide Wifi for their customers – but dumb enough to use content blocking services (powered by OpenDNS) to block Adult Content – including ‘Lingerie’ and ‘Adult News Content’.

This means they block totally awesome websites like Reddit but also adult websites like Fredericks and Victoria Secret.

So big deal right? It’s free Wifi and it’s within their right to be as Puritanical as they want … The only problem is that both Fredericks and Victoria Secret HAVE STORES IN THEIR MALL!

That’s right. You can’t visit their website but you can go shopping in Fredericks and buy lingerie for your girlfriend just fine…

Content filtering is amazingly stupid. Just let your customers use whatever website they want. There are proxy services that can bypass these filters anyway and you usually end up doing stupid things like this which get you in trouble.

Let’s stop pretending we live in England circa 1800 or under Taliban rule. Adult content is legitimate content. You actually have customers shopping here and giving you money. It’s a legitimate part of the economy.


  1. Get a 3G card and be done with it. Your network, your rules.

    Their network, their rules.

    Why tell other people how to run their network? That’s not how the Internet works. The Internet is about choice and freedom, it’s not about making every other network work the way you think it should. Sorry Kevin.

    PS — We don’t have an “adult news content” category.

  2. > Their network, their rules.

    I agree and noted this in my original post :)

    >> So big deal right? It’s free Wifi and it’s within their right to be as Puritanical as they want.

    > Why tell other people how to run their network? That’s not how the Internet works. The Internet is about choice and freedom, it’s not about making every other network work the way you think it should. Sorry Kevin.

    So you’re OK that Verizon is blocking OpenDNS? And you’d be ok with Verizon and any other Internet company blocking OpenDNS?

    The key part here is that I’m a customer of these stores (and the mall) and I’m within my rights to voice my discontent. They still have the right to do whatever they want with their network but I have the right to complain.

    … I will have to come up with a screenshot but I’m fairly certain Reddit was classified as something like ‘News / Adult Content’ or something of the sort… it might have been two categories though. It was hard to tell from the UI.

    Kevin

  3. When you are the customer of an ISP and you are buying Internet access, you expect Internet access. That means you should be able to use the Internet?

    At what point did you buy Internet access from the mall?

    The comparison between a mall offering wifi as a convenience and an Internet connection that is paid for is silly.

  4. “That means you should be able to use the Internet.” is a statement, not a question. Sorry.

  5. I think its good that they have content filtering on their “FREE” wifi.. This is a service that the Mall has determined to offer as a benefit to the people that shop there. They have every right to filter the content that comes through their service… While I agree its a little “odd” that they are blocking sites like victoria secret, if you are familiar with content filtering, and the sites it makes a bit more sense… For example, lets say I’m shopping with my 10 year old in the mall, I may not want him to see all the ladies in their underwear, I can avoid that by avoiding the store, or not going in the store… Lets say that he has his fancy new ipod touch and hops online using the free wifi.. I’m personally glad that he can’t go to their site and browse around!!

    In ANY case, the main point is that this is a “free” service offered by a private company, they can do whatever they want!

  6. David… If I’m a customer of VS… and I’m shopping in the mall, and I can’t access the VS website, I have the right to complain.

    They have the right to ignore my complaint of course… I of course have the right to not shop at the Westfield mall if I don’t like it…

    Christopher… I imagine the Westfield Mall’s policy on filtering wifi isn’t going to change a 10 year old’s ability to access this content should he/she want to…

  7. Kevin — They should whitelist VS, of course. We give them that ability. Up to them to use it. But that’s just a technical configuration mistake. That’s a separate issue from the intent of your post which is to argue that their content filtering is wrong.






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