January 31, 2019

Authorities Track Down Fugitive Sex Offender On Starbucks Premises Using Free Wifi: Starbucks Not Keeping Promise to Filter Porn & Child Sex Abuse Images from Its Public WiFi

Great Falls, VA – Enough Is Enough® (EIE) is keeping up the pressure on Starbucks to follow through on its promise to filter pornography and child sex abuse images from its public WiFi. Starbucks claimed it would begin rolling out a new tool to stop customers from watching pornography and child pornography in its stores in 2019, however, it has yet to do so. Earlier this month, sex offender Jason Zeller was apprehended at an Altamonte Springs, Florida Starbucks. Authorities were able to track him because he was using their free WiFi. He was reported to have a laptop and five cell phones in his possession at the time of his arrest. The coffee giant previously promised in 2016 that it would evaluate a global protocol to address WiFi filtering in its company-owned stores following more than a year’s worth of pressure from EIE. 

“By not acting expeditiously on their commitment to filter public WiFi, Starbucks continues to attract convicted sex offenders like Jason Zeller to their stores where they attempt to fly under the radar from law enforcement, using free, public WiFi services to access illegal child porn and hard-core pornography. Until businesses everywhere understand the critical need to filter graphic, obscene pornography and child sex abuse images from their public WiFi, they are opening the doors for a child to be victimized as predators can view or distribute these images on their premises,” said EIE’s president and CEO Donna Rice Hughes. 

EIE continues to ask concerned citizens nationwide to keep the pressure on Starbucks by signing their online petition until Starbucks finally implements WiFi filtering in their U.S.-based stores as they have done in their U.K. stores for the past several years. By implementing filtered WiFi, companies also offer privacy tools to secure WiFi access to prevent hackers and identity thieves from invading the privacy of patrons. “This isn’t rocket science,” Hughes continued. “These tools have existed for years, but they won’t work if they are not implemented. It’s time for Corporate America and institutions offering public WiFi to voluntarily offer safe and secure WiFi. It just makes good business sense.” 

In fact, the Starbucks’ UK website boasts: “Our WiFi is approved under the Friendly WiFi scheme. Wherever you see the ‘Friendly WiFi’ logo, this means the public WiFi service at the venue is ?ltered to meet the two levels of protection as specified...” The site goes on to say that web pages depicting indecent images of children will be filtered, as well as pornographic content. “America’s children deserve that same level of protection,” said Hughes.

Jason Zeller, who frequented the Altamonte Springs store, is just one example of why Starbucks needs to act swiftly in taking steps to filter its public WiFi. As noted in EIE’s letter to Kevin Johnson, Starbucks CEO, in May 2018,EIE specifically stated that an incident like this could result in a public relations nightmare for Starbucks if a sex offender were to be caught on their premises using their free WiFi. “This nightmare has now become a reality,” said Hughes. “How many more sex offenders need to be arrested at Starbucks for them to keep their promise? This is not only an opportunity for Starbucks to act on their promise, but an invitation for all businesses to voluntarily filter their public WiFi so that scenarios like this don’t happen again.”