FCC Warns Hotels Not to Block Wi-Fi Hotspots

By Paul Riegler on 28 January 2015
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DSC_0407The Federal Communications Commission cautioned hotels and other commercial establishments on Tuesday about blocking signals from Wi-Fi hotspots being used by guests and others visiting a property.

The agency issued a public enforcement advisory, in which it warned that “Willful or malicious interference with Wi-Fi hot spots is illegal,” noting that “networks, or ‘hot spots,’ are an important way that consumers connect to the Internet.”  Protecting consumers from this kind of interference is a “priority area,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in a statement.

The FCC will take action against violators by imposing substantial fines, it said.

Blocking a Wi-Fi hotspot violates Section 333 of the Communications Act of 1934, which states that “No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this chapter or operated by the United States Government.”

The move comes following an FCC investigation in which Marriott Hotels was found to have “deployed a Wi-Fi deauthentication protocol” to block guests and other visitors from utilizing their own personal hotspots.  In October, Marriott was fined $600,000 by the FCC for blocking guests’ Wi-Fi networks at a Nashville resort in order to force guests to pay for access to the hotel’s Internet service.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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