The provision of family-friendly Wi-Fi access is becoming increasingly important for businesses. Concern has been raised by a number of consumer groups and child protection organizations about open Wi-Fi networks and the ease at which minors can access age-inappropriate content via public Wi-Fi hotspots.
The potential damage caused by the accessing of inappropriate material such as child abuse images, child pornography, and adult content is considerable. Businesses providing customers with access to the Internet have been urged to implement controls to limit the potential for minors to access this content via their networks.
While efforts are improving and an increasing number of establishments are implementing controls to restrict access to adult and extreme website content, until recently it was unclear to parents which establishments offered child-friendly Internet access.
The Friendly Wi-Fi Scheme was created to help parents determine which establishments offered a family-friendly Wi-Fi service and to encourage businesses to start filtering the Internet. The scheme was first created in the United Kingdom in 2014 following efforts by the UK Government to raise awareness of the risks of unfiltered Internet access. The project was the result of a collaboration between the Registered Digital Institute (RDI) and the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and is the first such scheme to be launched anywhere in the world.
All businesses are being encouraged to join the “Friendly Wi-Fi scheme and to display the Friendly Wi-Fi logo clearly in their facilities. The Friendly Wi-Fi Scheme logo advises parents that Wi-Fi can be accessed safely by minors. All participants in the scheme must have their networks inspected by an independent assessor to ensure that the appropriate controls have been implemented to restrict access to harmful website content.
The Galway-based coffee shop chain Mocha Beans is one of the latest businesses to sign up for the scheme and has chosen TitanHQ to filter the Internet in all of its coffee shops. Mocha Beans is the first coffee shop chain in Ireland to receive Friendly Wi-Fi Scheme accreditation.
Mocha Beans offers customers free Internet access via its network of Wi-Fi hotspots, which are now protected by WebTitan Cloud for WiFi. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi has been configured to block age-inappropriate material such as pornography and websites and webpages contained in the Internet Watch Foundation blacklist – a blacklist of webpages containing images of child abuse and child pornography.
In addition to protecting minors from accessing inappropriate website content, WebTitan Cloud for WiFi also offers Mocha Beans customers protection from a wide range of online threats such as malicious websites, malvertising, and phishing websites.
Cathal Keogh, MD of Mocha Beans recently spoke of the importance of securing the chain’s WiFi hotspots. “Providing guest Wi-Fi in a coffee shop or restaurant is now expected. It was important for us to ensure we did everything possible to protect guests while using our free Wi-Fi service.”
TitanHQ CEO Ronan Kavanagh said “Today’s businesses know that security threats are evolving rapidly and constantly.” Kavanagh went on to say, “for those offering public Wi-Fi, WebTitan for Wi-Fi allows them to deliver secure browsing via the cloud on any device, anytime.”