The FCC Response to Marriott's Request to Block WiFi Hotspots
On January 27th, 2014, the Chief of the Enforcement Bureau for the FCC, Travis LeBlanc, issued a strongly worded statement in response to Marriott's petition to be allowed to block WiFi hotspots at the properties it manages. While Marriott itself has issued a statement saying that they would no longer do so, the FCC has received several reports of other venues and hotels where it appeared personal WiFi hotspots were being blocked.
The post on the FCC website was titled "WARNING- WiFi Blocking is Prohibited" and didn't leave a lot of wiggle room. For anybody.
The statement uses much of the same language as the judgement against Marriott, but makes explicit that WiFi blocking will not be tolerated by the bureau. Some key excerpts:
"The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises. As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference."
"What is Prohibited? No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the
network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt
personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to purchase access to the property owner’s Wi-Fi network. Such action is illegal and violations
could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties."
The tone and intention of the statement is pretty clear- hotels and other businesses operating WiFi hotspot blocking systems? Knock it off or you will be fined.
For the full backstory and analysis of the Marriott WiFi Blocking Kerfuffle so far, have a look at my previous article.