Yesterday, Sherights.com and DNAInfo reported on how apparently separate Au Bon Pain cafés in Manhattan had blocked customer access to websites dealing with issues of sexuality, abortion, and LGBT rights, such as GLAAD and Planned Parenthood. The chain blamed the censorship on the default settings of its filtering software provider. “You may have seen one of our customers had issues with our WiFi today,” a representative wrote on Twitter. “We worked with our WiFi provider to make sure it won’t happen again.”
Update: The chain sends along this statement:
At Au Bon Pain, all of our guests are important to us, and we want to set the record straight regarding misinformation about Wi-Fi access at Au Bon Pain. Foremost, we apologize again for any offense taken by people and communities we count among our friends, family, co-workers, and ourselves.
Au Bon Pain offers café guests free Wi-Fi, provided by a Wi-Fi service company we contract. As a standard practice, the Wi-Fi company uses third-party filter software intended to ensure the comfort and safety of our guests by keeping truly objectionable content inaccessible.
Au Bon Pain did not intend to block reputable sites regarding any LGBT issues, family planning, or any other topics or communities to our guests using Wi-Fi in our cafés. We were unaware the filtering software our Wi-Fi provider uses would block any sites. When Au Bon Pain learned yesterday these sites were blocked, we immediately contacted our Wi-Fi provider, who disabled the filter so the sites would not be blocked.
Au Bon Pain apologizes again for any inconvenience our guests experienced by not being able to access reputable websites using our complimentary Wi-Fi at Au Bon Pain’s cafés. It was never our intent to deliberately block any internet site from our guests and we acted immediately to rectify the situation.