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Officials: NYC web kiosks shut off over pornography viewing

A LinkNYC kiosk, located at 3rd Ave. and

A LinkNYC kiosk, located at 3rd Ave. and 15th street in Manhattan, is seen on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Tablets for free web browsing are being shut off at city-sponsored internet kiosks after complaints that some users were hogging the terminals and viewing pornography in public.

LinkNYC, which runs about 400 kiosks on streets in three boroughs, made the announcement Wednesday. The terminals have replaced abandoned phone booths with device charging stations and Wi-Fi hot spots.

Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio quipped that “no good deed goes unpunished” — the aim to expand internet access to the underserved — and the city was working on a plan to address the complaints, which also included reports of users committing lewd acts while surfing the Internet.

The web browsing is being removed while LinkNYC figures out how to implement “potential solutions, like time limits,” according to a statement.

Nearly 475,000 users have signed up to use the free broadband offered by the kiosks, and have accessed the service over 21 million times.

On Monday, the NYPD arrested a man on charges that he commited lewd acts at a kiosk in Murray Hill, Manhattan.

“We also know that some users have been monopolizing the Link tablets and using them inappropriately, preventing others from being able to use them while frustrating the residents and businesses around them,” the statement said. “The kiosks were never intended for anyone’s extended, personal use.”

Features like free phone calls, maps, charging and access to 311 and 911 would continue, as will the free Wi-Fi.

The New York Civil Liberties Unions earlier this year expressed concerned that LinkNYC, and CityBridge, the consortium backing the kiosk, collect personal information about users.

The terms of service required users to submit their email addresses and agree to the collection of details such as what websites are visited, what links are clicked and how long the page is viewed.

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