Tim Hortons blocks customers’ WiFi access to gay and lesbian website

by: Obert Madondo |  | Published July 22, 2013, by The Canadian Progressive

(Photo: Obert Madondo/The Canadian Progressive)

(Photo: Obert Madondo/The Canadian Progressive)

Apparently Tim Hortons doesn’t value its Canadian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered customers.

Last week, the Canadian coffee titan blocked the website of popular gay and lesbian newspaper Xtra from its public WiFi network.

Xtra, a free newspaper, is distributed in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

Tim Hortons deems Dailyxtra.com content “not appropriate for all ages viewing in a public environment.”

Xtra publisher and editor-in-chief Brandon Matheson said his publication found out about the censorship after receiving complaints that the site was unavailable at several of the popular coffee chain’s restaurants. When the publication requested that the site be unblocked, Tim Hortons declined.

“We have reviewed this site’s content and have found that it is not appropriate for all ages viewing in a public environment,” a Tim Hortons web administrator told Xtra in an email. “We try to ensure that all of our guests can enjoy a safe and pleasant experience when visiting us.

“We try to ensure that all of our guests can enjoy a safe and pleasant experience when visiting us. We look at all of these types of requests in detail in order to provide the most latitude we can while keeping our restaurants a friendly environment. While there is no way to change this decision, we can assure you that it was not an easy decision to make.”

An unprecedented public outcry forced Tim Hortons to move from the “no way to change this decision” decision to an apology and complete change of heart. But, as corporations and the powerful always do in situations involving prejudice and controversy, the company blamed someone else for its prejudice.

According to Daily Xtra:

Canadian coffee giant Tim Hortons has apologized. A spokesperson for the company has contacted Daily Xtra to say that the coffee chain will be unblocking Dailyxtra.com on its store WiFi network.

“We’re working on unblocking your site. It never should have been blocked in the first place,” Michelle Robichaud says.

“We apologize to anybody who may have been offended,” Robichaud added.

“Tim Hortons has resolved the situation properly and certainly we accept their apology,” says Brandon Matheson, Daily Xtra publisher and editor-in-chief.

“Issues around third-party filtering are problematic and if that is what was responsible, then Tim Hortons’ management took the appropriate steps to correct the problem for their customers that had complained they could not access Dailyxtra.com,” says Matheson.

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.