The Federal Communications Commission stated today it is "aggressively investigating and acting against" hotels that try to block the use of personal Wi-Fi hotspots. This new clarification on the FCC's policy comes after it settled a case in 2014 with Marriott, who admitted that it blocked the use of such hotspots for people who stayed in its Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
It's against the law for consumers or businesses to block any wireless signals. Marriott agreed to pay an $800,000 fine to the FCC after guests at the Gaylord Opryland complained their hotspots didn't work inside the hotel, due to a jamming system set up by the hotel. Later, Marriott asked the FCC for permission to block Wi-Fi signals in its meeting and convention rooms due to security concerns. However, today's statement by the FCC would seem to slam that proposal down. It stated:
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 FCC wants people who believe that their personal Wi-Fi hotspot is being blocked by a hotel or other business to contact the commission and file a complaint.