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Loss of Kiosk Web Browsing Buoys Quality of Life, Widens Digital Divide

(CHELSEANOW.COM) Dusica Sue Malesevic, October 11, 2016 — LinkNYC’s disabling of web browsing capabilities on its Wi-Fi kiosks this month points to an age-old tug of war in the city: balancing quality of life concerns with the implementing a new program.

In this case, what was touted as a plank to the building of a bridge over the city’s digital divide got marred by inappropriate use and the monopolization of kiosks. It is unclear whether the web browsing function will be reinstated. If not, a source of Internet accessibility for those of lower incomes and the homeless has been cut off.

Pamela Wolff, a longtime W. 21st St. resident, said she has seen several “performances” before the web browsing was disabled: a person dragging a newspaper distribution box from nearby, turning it sidewise, and setting up shop in front of a kiosk.

During the summer, one man did just — spending hours at a terminal on Eighth Ave. between. W. 21st & W. 22nd Sts.

“He’s just there in the middle of the sidewalk,” she said in a phone interview. “He had a nice long snooze [while wearing earphones that were hooked up to the kiosk]. He was there for the afternoon.”

Bill Borock, president of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, said in a phone interview that people staying for a long time at the kiosks had been a problem and that “they blocked the sidewalk.”

Carol Ott, of the 300 W. 20th Street Block Association, said there was a tower between W. 20th and W. 21st Sts. on Eighth Ave. that people were gathering where there seemed to be drug use.

“It was making some people on the block uncomfortable who were walking by the kiosk,” Ott said in a phone interview.

Source: Loss of Kiosk Web Browsing Buoys Quality of Life, Widens Digital Divide | chelseanow.com