Starting today, you won’t be able to browse the web on the tablets in New York’s LinkNYC hubs. In an announcement today, the LinkNYC team said that "unexpected challenges" had made it necessary to temporarily shut down the web function in the hubs' onboard tablets.
"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 announcement reads. "The kiosks were never intended for anyone’s extended, personal use and we want to ensure that Links are accessible and a welcome addition to New York City neighborhoods."
The team is actively exploring other options for managing extended users, including time limits, although it's unclear when those measures will be ready to deploy. Until then, the tablets' web browsing capability will remain disabled.
"Some users have been monopolizing the Link tablets"
The news comes just hours after a new report from Motherboard detailed the growing trend of poor or homeless New Yorkers camping out in front of the tablets to browse the web. The New York Post has also reported on efforts to view pornography on the tablets, although many of the offending sites have since been blocked.
Some city leaders applauded the move. "We’ve heard a great deal of concern from all corners of the city about the misuse of these kiosks for lewd and nefarious purposes," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., "and today’s announcement that web browsing services will be disabled on LinkNYC kiosks is a step in the right direction."
The primary purpose of the LinkNYC hubs is to provide a city-wide Wi-Fi network, which will remain unchanged. The hubs’ onboard tablets, which arrived in February, also allow users to access Google Maps and a variety of city services.
Update 2:13PM ET: Updated with statement from Borough President Diaz.