Marriott Fined for Blocking Guests’ Wi-Fi Networks

By Paul Riegler on 3 October 2014
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DSC_0782The Federal Communications Commission fined Marriott International for blocking rival Wi-Fi networks at a Nashville resort in order to force guests to pay for access to the hotel’s Internet service.

The agency’s investigation revealed that employees of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, used the hotel’s Wi-Fi monitoring system “to contain and/or de-authenticate guest-created Wi-Fi hotspot access points in the conference facilities.”  This forced guests and event attendees to use the hotel’s Wi-Fi system, with charges ranging between $250 and $1,000 per device.

The complaint dates back to March 2013.  A user attending an event at the property stated that the hotel was “jamming mobile hotspots so that you can’t use them in the convention space.”

“It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network,” said Travis LeBlanc, the agency’s enforcement bureau chief.

The hotel group signed a Consent Decree in which it agreed to “cease the unlawful use of Wi-Fi blocking technology.”  It must also institute a compliance plan and file compliance and usage reports with the agency every three months for the next three years.  The Consent Decree covers all properties in the United States managed or owned by Marriott.

In a written statement, Marriott said it continues to believe that the Gaylord Opryland’s actions were “lawful” and said it has a “strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks, and identify theft.”

The hotel chain paid a $600,000 civil penalty to settle the case.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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