Monday, October 6, 2014

Marriott Strikes Back at FCC Fine for Wi-Fi Blocking

Marriott International issued a statement criticizing the $600,000 fine imposed by the FCC for blocking personal hotspot Wi-Fi signals at its Gaylord Opryland hotel.  Marriott argues that it has the right and responsibility to block rogue access point on its property because the could represent a security threat to its operations and to its customers.

Here's the statement:

"Marriott 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 identity theft. Like many other institutions and companies in a wide variety of industries, including hospitals and universities, the Gaylord Opryland protected its Wi-Fi network by using FCC-authorized equipment provided by well-known, reputable manufacturers.  We believe that the Gaylord Opryland's actions were lawful.  We will continue to encourage the FCC to pursue a rulemaking in order to eliminate the ongoing confusion resulting from today's action and to assess the merits of its underlying policy."

http://news.marriott.com/2014/10/marriott-internationals-statement-on-fcc-ruling.html

Last week, the FCC imposed a $600,000 fine on Marriott Hotel Services for blocking customers' own Wi-Fi signals at the conference facilities of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

The FCC said its investigation revealed that Marriott employees had used containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system at the Gaylord Opryland to prevent individuals from connecting to the Internet via their own personal Wi-Fi networks, while at the same time charging consumers, small businesses, and exhibitors as much as $1,000 per device to access Marriott’s Wi-Fi network. This action was determined to be a violation of Section 333 of the Communications Act. The FCC investigation was prompted by a consumer complaint in March 2013.

“Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personalInternet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “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. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether,” he added.

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