Marriott fined $600,000 by FCC for interfering with customer WiFi hotspots

in legal on (#2T6H)
Marriott (since 2012) has been using wireless technology to prevent guests at the Gaylord Opryland hotel and convention center from using their own Wi-Fi mobile hotspots, forcing exhibitors or customers to use Marriott’s expensive Internet services, available at the whopping cost of $250 to $1,000 per wireless access point. Despite popular press reports, this did not involve "jamming" which is strictly illegal in the US, but instead something more like a WiFi DoS attack.

Marriott had deployed a Wi-Fi monitoring system with a “containment capability”. When activated, the system could identify Wi-Fi access points that were not part of Marriott’s own Wi-Fi system (or otherwise authorized by Marriott). Such non-Marriott access points were dubbed “rogues”. When rogues were detected, the system sent “de-authorization” packets to the unauthorized access points, booting those users off their free connections and, presumably, forcing them to pony up for Marriott’s paid Internet access.

Curious thought (Score: 1)

by on 2014-10-09 17:51 (#2T6N)

More interesting than the legal ramifications: are they right about improving security? If you were a customer of theirs during the blocking you would have two options: go outside or buy wifi. Presuming they had decent security, would this not have stopped all those "suspicious_hotspot is nearby with 4 bars, do you want to use it" situations? Was the security reasoning behind this legitimate? (Obviously it's a money-grab, they could've given the wifi out for free in dozens of safe ways, but maybe their logic isn't entirely unsound.)

Then again, hotel wifi is about the most holey, vermin-infested place you can connect to the 'net. I'd be shocked if they actually had good security. Anyone ever stayed there while this was going on?
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