Marriott International is in hot water for illegally blocking some of its guests’ mobile hotspots at an event at its hotel and convention center in Nashville, then charging patrons up to $1,000 per device to connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi.
According to a statement from the Federal Communications Commission, Marriott has agreed to pay a $600,000 fine for its actions.
“Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether.”
Marriott employees were using “containment features of a Wi-Fi monitoring system” at the Gaylord Opryland hotel and convention center to prevent guests from connecting to their personal hotspots.
According to CNN, Marriott defended its actions, issuing this 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.
In addition to the fine, Marriott must not block guests’ Wi-Fi at any of its properties, not just the Nashville Gaylord Opryland. Marriott must also institute a compliance plan and file reports with the FCC every three months for three years.
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