New York City's free Internet kiosks are getting a big downgrade after the company that operates them said users were hogging the on-street machines to watch movies and pornography.

The 400 kiosks, which have been pitched to consumers as a kind of telephone booth of the future, have a built-in tablet that lets passers-by look up directions and make free phone calls. They also offered a Web browser -- but not anymore.  LinkNYC, the company behind the access points, said Wednesday that "some users have been monopolizing the Link tablets and using them inappropriately."

Because of that problem, LinkNYC is cutting off access to the Web browser indefinitely, or at least until it can figure out how to keep users from abusing the kiosks for their "extended, personal use."

New Yorkers have complained about homeless people using the tablets to watch porn. Although some news outlets are reporting this as a new revelation, we've known about this issue for months. LinkNYC had already tried to do something about it — and apparently failed.

Back in June, LinkNYC said it was responding to complaints of user abuse by installing a software filter aimed at blocking all pornography from its tablets. The software was sourced from a "highly regarded, professional-grade content monitoring system used by thousands of businesses, schools and libraries," LinkNYC said.

Since then, LinkNYC has had months to install the filters. So why, as recently as Sunday, was LinkNYC still getting reports about the same abuses?

"There was a crackdown because people were watching porn" isn't the story. The story is that LinkNYC's efforts to stem the excessive usage didn't really work, which may say more about the implementation of the filter than people's interest in online smut.

A spokesperson for LinkNYC said that no filter is perfect and that it's difficult to strike a balance between blocking content that some people might deem innocuous and maximizing the kiosks' usefulness to members of the public.

The spokesperson said that LinkNYC faced a bigger problem: People are overturning newspaper boxes and pulling up chairs in front of the kiosks to settle in, keeping others from using the devices.

The company said it is weighing policies that might prevent the nuisance, such as time limits and cooldown periods where the kiosk's Web browsing feature becomes inactive. While that could deter some from abusing the tablets, it may also make life more difficult for the next people who want to use them.

If you build it, they will come. And stay too long.