Some time ago, Starbucks began allowing their customers to use the wireless internet connection for free at their stores, without even requiring a username or password. Previously, one had to register for a Starbucks rewards card and maintain activity of at least once per month, for the card to remain active. I have used a Starbucks card for several years, and was perfectly happy with it. I don’t drink coffeee, never have, but I’d add $5 bucks to the card every so often and my wife would get one of those Strawberry Frapuchino drinks. Tasted sort of like a Strawberry shake. Pretty delicious, albeit overpriced, in my opinion. Nevertheless, it was a darn good deal for the internet. I once was at Starbucks when this kook cop came up to me for no reason. I started filming him, and he tried to demand I turn off my camera, which I refused. It made for a very amusing youtube video which continues to get traffic today. Congressman Ed Towns recently put my follow up article about his Congressional proposal on his campaign website. Anway, back to Starbucks.
Nowdays, Starbucks allows anyone to go inside and log on! No identification or card needed. An even better deal than before. When customers log on to these type services, there is the obligatory ‘Terms of Service & Acceptable Use Policy’ which one must agree to. Very few people probably actually read the terms they are agreeing to. I checked it out recently, just out of curiosity, and found some amusing provisions. (Starbucks uses AT&T, by the way). The first thing that caught my eye is that they forbid use of racist, hateful, indecent, obscene, invasive, or even inflammatory material. That just about eliminates 90 percent of the internet, doesn’t it?
“AT&T IP Services shall not be used to host, post, transmit, or re-transmit any content or material that is threatening, harassing, obscene, indecent, hateful, malicious, racist, fraudulent, deceptive, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise harmful or offensive to third parties, treasonous, excessively violent or promotes the use of violence, or provides instruction, information or assistance in causing or carrying out violence against any government, organization, group or individual…. Customer shall not create or attempt to utilize a domain name that is fraudulent, indecent, offensive, deceptive, threatening, abusive or harassing.”
The rules go on to outline how they will charge five bucks for each piece of spam sent! “..AT&T reserves the right to seek from the Customer liquidated damages in the amount of five dollars (US$5.00) for each piece of ‘spam’ or unsolicited bulk email transmitted from or otherwise connected with Customer’s account, in addition to any other rights and remedies…”
Their extensive list of “Examples of Spam/E-mail/Usenet Abuse” includes “posting a single message, or messages to online forums or newsgroups, that could reasonably be expected to provoke complaints”.
Wow. So theoretically, if someone posted on a forum such as Examiner and generated complaints, their coffee internet time could be kaput!
There are so many allegations of ‘racism’, ‘extremism’, and ‘inflamatory’ material flying around these days. Oftentimes, the very definition of such material is extremely subjective. People who don’t like Obama are often falsely accused of being ‘racists’. People who criticize the federal government and their schemes are often referred to as ‘hateful extremists’, who are ‘potentially violent’. Even the very definition of pornography can vary widely, depending on one’s ideological bent.
Starbucks is to be commended for allowing open carry of firearms on their property, in an age of extreme gun phobics. The free market is such that Starbucks and AT&T have every right to forbid whoever they want from their stores and from using their free service. Frankly it might behoove them to at least require that customers buy a product while they are there, instead of obsessing on what they might think.
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Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured on LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened, Infowars, PrisonPlanet, Rense, National Motorists Association, and many others. You can view a full archive of his Examiner articles here.