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Free WiFi at 11,000 McDonalds beginning in January 2010

Image from Wikipedia. Sorry for the awful Photoshop job -- but that's part of the comedy value...Starting mid-January 2010, McDonalds will be offering free wireless Internet access at 11,000 of its 14,000 fast-food joints. Whether it will be 'gated' via some kind of time code on your receipt, or really free remains to be seen.

This opens a scarily interesting kettle of filet-o-fish: is this service going to be firewalled? Will usage be monitored? If the service is totally free -- as in, you can just walk in and boot up your netbook -- will McDonalds become the new Starbucks? (OK, this might be pushing it a little, but someone at McDonalds must've had a similar idea.)

What about piracy -- or worse, how about porn? Can you see teenagers fighting for those coveted corner seats, only to realize too late that the walls are glass and kiddies have been watching from outside, while innocently riding the sit-on Ronald McDonald?

Here in the UK we've just had our first case of a bar being fined for illegal activity that occurred on its public WiFi hotspot. You can't imagine McDonalds would allow similar abuse of its massive, nation-wide chain of WiFi access points... but we'll see!

[via Mashable]

Tags: fast food, FastFood, free, hotspot, mcdonalds, wifi, wireless