A few months after fining a Marriott hotel for interfering with customer Wi-Fi hotspots in order to force customers to pay $250 to $1,000 for access to their own WiFi network, the FCC made its stance on the practice inescapably clear:
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.Marriott and several other organizations claimed their actions were valid security measures, protecting their customers "from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft," and requested clarification from the FCC on just how much WiFi interference they were allowed to get away with; now they have their answer. Of course the FCC ruling could still be challenged in court, but is likely to have an immediate effect reducing how widespread this practice is. The public is urged to visit http://www.fcc.gov/complaints or call 1-888-CALL-FCC if you have reason to believe your personal Wi-Fi hot spot has been blocked.