Cannabis may be legal in Canada, but the iconic Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons is not allowing access to any legal weed websites using their in-store WiFi. Virtually all legal cannabis company websites, including large Licensed Producers, are being blocked.
Try to log on and you get an “access denied” notice. It explains that the page has been blocked “due to inappropriate content.”
Tim Hortons has offered free WiFi since 2012. The WiFi itself is provided by Bell Canada and hosted by Montreal-based company Datavalet. So it’s not as if Tim’s should be concerned about running afoul of American cannabis laws. What gives?
Tim Hortons’ corporate media relations team did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. Datavalet could not be reached either.
We called the public customer service line listed on the Tim Hortons WiFi landing page. There, an employee confirms that cannabis content is being blocked by the company. (The employee attempted at our request to access tweed.com to confirm this.)
The employee blames filters which block content “like adult content” automatically.
So it’s not as if the company is specifically blocking legal cannabis content. Rather, legal cannabis content is getting caught by filters designed to ensure all content is family-friendly, according to this employee.
That does not explain, however, reports of customers being able to access several cannabis websites selling cannabis illegally using Tim’s WiFi. It’s conceivable that those websites are taking steps to obscure their cannabis business using web scraping software.
But it’s not the first time WiFi has become a point of minor controversy for Tim’s. The chain was forced to apologize in 2013 for blocking access to the LGBTQ news outlet dailyXtra.com. At the time, a Tim’s spokesperson told the CBC that dailyxtra.com “shouldn’t have been blocked.”